Mark Stanley: Self-Portraits

Self-portrait drawing as a form of art therapy

Living with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia for 20 years, I have tried every pill in the medicine cabinet.  I went to a thousand therapies.  I consulted witches and pharmacists, reiki therapists, cognitive behavioural psychologists and psychics.  I read Freud, Campbell, Hoffer, Salinger, Plath, Monroe, Jung, Dickens and Goethe.  I was still dead.

My mom was a high school art teacher.  She was interested in a book called ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ by Betty Edwards.  I have purchased that book seven times now.  My goal is to read it this winter.  While waiting to learn how to draw, I did some chalk sketches.  After copying pictures from magazines, I slowly found it beneficial to do my own self-portrait.

Time after time, my pictures would speak to me after I had sketched them.  I would look and say to myself ‘that’s not bad’ or ‘I kinda like that’, ‘I can see a resemblance’, ‘I can do better next time’.  These are words for a person late out of the starting gate in life, but not that of one with a chronic mental disorder.  So I continue drawing.

I was always a big fan of before and after photos, pictures before and after loosing a hundred pounds say.  The self-portraits have that tone.  I might be depressed and draw faint lines with quirky yellow cheeks.  I might be full of myself and draw a purple magician.  Technical ability fluctuates with mood too.  Confident, I draw a confident line.  In the end one’s art catches up with them, and if you’re lucky, you have something to share.  That transaction, the viewer’s interpretation and response is 100% pure 24K gold.

About the Artist

  • Born August 20, 1969 and raised in Hanover, Ontario.
  • Graduated from The University of Western Ontario, BA in Administrative and Information Studies 1991.
  • Currently in my 25th year at Loblaw Companies Limited as a full-time grocery clerk.
  • Completed ‘Trix’ a word experiment to simulate the experience of psychosis.
  • Completed ‘Bit by the Wrong Snake’ a stream of consciousness word experiment.
  • Completed 500 chalk images trying to figure-out how to be open to the Muse of Drawing.

Mark can be found at Mark Stanley in London, Ontario on Facebook and #markgeorgejosephbrent on Instagram.

Exhibition News: Mark’s portraits will be on display in the London Art Studio Tour on Friday, April 15 through Sunday, April 17, 2016.


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