Drawing Series on Depression and Anxiety – Part II

(Continued from this post.)


So it’s gotten better, but I want to go back to understand a little bit more of what this all was. Sometimes I think we’re quick to jump to the solution, we want to speed through the problem as fast we can—reach the other side. But we’re here on Earth, aren’t we? We’ll reach Heaven eventually, won’t we? We might as well learn to take it slow, and learn how to read our problems. We have time to figure things out. And that’s something I’ve learned, and am still learning: there’s time to figure things out. I guess sometimes the whole “You only live once,” makes us feel like we’re not enough in this moment.

Going back to the problem. Recently I felt the anxiety coming back again. This past year was hard. Everything in my life seemed to be spinning again. Things that were, weren’t anymore. The person I looked at in the mirror was different, unrecognizable. I felt like there was a hole in my stomach, a black hole sucking in everything I threw at it, never satisfied. And the ghost-like feeling started to come back.


I asked a couple people on Facebook to maybe help me coin a word to sum up this feeling.

Alex Johnson came up with “Anonrious,” a combination of anonymous and vicarious. She explains that “vicarious living makes no difference in your own life,” while “anonymous” conveys the ghost sentiment.” Which I think works with the idea. As I see it, anonymity contains a certain powerlessness behind it. The anonymous are weakekend, while those who carry an identity are strengthened, and have power, and influence.Anxiety

Ian Nery Rocha came up with “Miere.” For his thought process, he said: “I would choose a short, seemingly unimportant [word], as the sentiment it describes.” I think this also fits well with the concept; the person dealing with depression often feels unimportant, asking for attention (and help) is an incredible effort in itself. They feel tiny, small, impossibly small, as I did.


To tie it all together:

Depression is connected to problems of Body, problems related to physical sensations that we often shut out. Depression carries with it a ghost-like quality of life. Depression is tied to “I’m not enough.” It’s tied to “I should already be good at this—at living.” Depression brings with it a lack of identity, lack of importance and of influence. And we should understand more of this reality before we go throwing solutions at a friend dealing with these emotions.

I still carry my Sadness with me. There’s still part of me that is enamored with him; he feels like he’s a piece of me. I want him. He makes me more real. But through therapy, the practice of mindfulness, and through the help of friends and family, I’ve also learned how to not let him take over me anymore. I’ve learned to trust others to help me.


This is all coming from my own experience. The world is big, and some people tell me that we have more than 7 billion people on this Earth. So please don’t assume that my own experiences encompass those of others. Each person may feel depression differently. They also will have different paths then mine, where therapy may not be enough and medication is needed. They may also find practices other than mindfulness and meditation that help them more.

The last thing I want to say is. Don’t feel like you have to worry about me. While I’m not perfect, I’ve grown a lot and have learned a variety of system-checks to keep my depression at bay. I’ve had the help of my parents and close friends. If my own life is ever at risk because of depression, I’ll let someone close, who can help me, know.

I wanted to talk about depression and anxiety. It’s something that I care deeply about, because of my own experiences and of those close to me. There’s a couple of other blog posts that touch a little bit on these topics. If you want to check them out here’s a small list of items relating to this topic, either by referencing it, or searching for solutions.


What Made Me Cry This Week – Yoga

Remember This 4

Remember This 3

Thank you for reading through this story, your support, time and attention means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.


Drawing Series on Depression and Anxiety



Imagine me, younger, around the age of ten. my hair is longer and lighter. My nose hasn’t grown yet; it still has soft curves. My eyelashes and eyebrows are dark and heavy, hiding my eyes a little. I’m standing on this hill, just outside my house, my legs straight, my gaze firm as I look out into the city that fills the valleys and climbs the hills. The hill I stand on is covered in a green sheet. Not exactly the green you’re thinking of, but the green contaminated with a blue cold and grey tint; the sky is filled with soft shapes and gradations of clouds. Everything feels a little bit quieter. And I’m there on the hill, just quietly sad. My body feels empty, and so does my heart.

I have this memory from childhood, and I don’t recall if it’s been fabricated by my brain or if it happened.

I always was a little bit of a sad person. Even a sad kid really. I’ve heard from people that they see me as a joyful, calm and happy person. But I think I always carried with me a certain weight of sadness. Sure, I also had my happy moments, but there was sadness lurking about within. Almost like my happiness always had to be tinted with sorrow.

I don’t know where it comes from, why it existed. Why it exists. Maybe it’s my sensitive heart. Or maybe it started when my friend died in elementary school, run over by a truck when he was biking. I was 7, he was 6.

Maybe I’ve been enamored to sadness. Sadness has a richness of its own. It’s very nuanced, and feels real and tangible.


Wherever it came from, this sadness hit the hardest in my teenage years.When I entered puberty and suddenly saw everything changing around me—my own body, my friends, the place I lived in—suddenly carrying my friend Sadness wasn’t ok anymore.

While I struggled to grasp my emotions, to gain some control of them, a friend committed suicide. He was almost an acquaintance really, but we were getting closer. This event ignited my own sadness, and suddenly it burst into thoughts of self-harm; and suicide made its space in my mind. Talking with my mom, we agreed that I should see a psychologist.

I had already struggled with a mild degree of depression, but suddenly I felt like the whole world crashed on me—anxiety was thrown into the mix. I felt unable to solve my problems and unable to be of any help to others. Looking back, I think I felt like a ghost. Unable to affect any real force or change, in the world, or in myself. My pain was cerebral, emotional, abstract. But to some degree I truly felt alienated from my body, and I decided to forget my body. Unable to enact change, I let myself slip more and more into the abstract self, into my head, away from the physical.


Going to a psychologist for the next year or so really helped me. It helped me deal with insecurities, helped me see myself not as incapable, but as weakened. I could build myself up, slowly.

(To be continued)

I’ll post the second part to this on Thursday the 8th.

I wanted to talk about depression and anxiety. It’s something that I care deeply about, because of my own experiences and of those close to me. There’s a couple of other blog posts that touch a little bit on these topics. If you want to check them out here’s a small list of items relating to this topic, either by referencing it, or searching for solutions.


What Made Me Cry This Week – Yoga

Remember This 4

Remember This 3

Thank you for reading through this story, your support, time and attention means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.


Colors and their Ambiguity and Contradictions

Words often fail to capture color. Their nuances, their ambiguity, fluidity all slip through the cracks of words.

Words seem to exist in an eternal state, a place of permanence. Even though their meanings change through time, within a generation or a single human’s life, that might be hard to notice or even impossible. But colors out here in the world, they flow, vibrate and change with the cycle of the sun, the seasons, and the lights we turn on and off in our houses and streets. The colors might repeat themselves in our lifetimes if only for a brief moment each time.


Right now as I walk to the bus, there’s a play of the gold-light from the sun, that slowly rises, and the shadows in the snow. The shadows are drenched in a soft blue or purple. It’s a color with great presence, but also very subtle whispers. It almost emanates the cold I feel on my skin, but also comfort and embrace.

Soon these colors will melt as the day goes on and the sun changes its mood. Maybe around 4pm or 5pm there’ll be some similar colors again if the atmosphere doesn’t change and the clouds stay as they are. But will they be the same? Even their similarity will be different, emphasized by the different state I will find myself in, my chest carrying different humors and responses to the world.

Color is so powerful because of this fluidity and ambiguity. Color is able to contradict itself.

The deep red, purple and orange that may emerge from some sunsets. They’re beautiful, longing and contemplative. They ask of us, “Stop. Take a moment, right here, and see me.” But the colors can also feel ominous, heavy making us maybe even a bit scared — “Will the next day come for sure? Is life going to keep on going, or was this my last sunset?”

And the blue-purple of the snow, and the gold-light, right now they seem to dance and shift between cold and warm and warm and cold. The blue becomes warm for a second, comforting. Then it recedes back into the cold, pulling with it the gold. And then this golden air that so often feels like a soft embrace, becomes cold and apathetic, superior to my experiences and my need of warmth. This all happening in a fraction of a second — it’s like a coin flipping in the air, quickly shifting from one to the other.

In one single moment I feel it all because of color. This slippery characteristic of vision that eludes so many of us. No wonder so often people are most attracted to the color of a painting — even when it’s exactly because the painting lacks colors. Color breathes, flows and changes so quickly it creates in us a sense of continual rediscovery.

A trip to New England

So. I’ve been trying to write a blog post about my Boston Interim trip. But I’ve been searching so much for the “best” way to write about it that I haven’t done much. I decided then to just actually go with the easiest way to do it. Basically, I’ll share the watercolors I did of the places we went and share a little of what they mean. These are not necessarily in chronological order as I took pictures of places and did the watercolors afterwards.


In Concord, we visited Walden Pond where the very famous Thoreau built his cabin and lived there for about 2 years. The pond is almost more of a lake, although still considered a pond because of how it was formed. Good grief, I still want to call it a lake. It’s pretty big. In the image you can see the beautiful yellow that it was when we visited it. The lake itself was frozen and covered in about a foot of snow? Correct me if I’m wrong. Some of my classmates went on it. I was a chicken and didn’t. I stayed ashore, safe and sound and saw two of my other friends slip and fall. I might’ve laughed a little.

This watercolor is a landscape seen from the IMG_6134Northbridge. This bridge is where a lot of confusion happened and made some of the Englishmen die when they were coming in to get guns and ammunition out of American people’s hands. It was very confusing to me what exactly happened. But it was a beautiful view, and I couldn’t help but to try and represent it somehow.

IMG_6135This is a picture from inside the Old Manse. Highlights: Nathaniel Hawthorne lived here for a little, but the house belonged to Emerson; Sophia Hawthorne (Nathaniel’s wife) used to write on the glass windows and there’s some lovely poems on there. I loved the light coming in the room through the window and I wanted to capture that somehow. Not perfect but I’m happy with the results. I feel like the watercolor is doing is breathing it’s own life (and textures) into the image.

This one is back again at the Northbridge, but from a different position. We went thereIMG_6136 more than once and I just loved this huge tree at the top of this hill. As you may notice, it was a constant struggle of mine to represent snow. Snow is so hard. Sometimes I just wanted to draw a snowflake on the ground so people could go like “Oh, yeah. That be snow.” With this one though I still really like the way the lines turned out.

IMG_6137Ok. So this one was a hard one to execute. It’s a foggy view over the ocean bay out onto the other side of it in Salem. So the interesting thing about Salem is that it was where they had these crazy weird trials against witches. They were very bad trials and there’s a lot of history around them, and speculation about how they were used by some people to gain land and power. Crazy stuff. Anyways. After we toured a house in Salem, we had some freetime to explore. The view from the shore was beautiful—the houses in the distant land were semi-obscured by this fog. It all really matched the whole “witches” vibe. Also, many new age stores in town. You can go crazy with crystals and incense here if you want.

So this one is actually from the restroom that I used for most of interim in the inn that IMG_6138we stayed. I know, splendid to know where I did my necessities and cleaned myself. But, I just really liked again the light coming in and I got into this weird “paint windows” vibe there. This one the curtains are semi-closed which I appreciated.

IMG_6139Here we have me playing around with watercolor during a game of Mafia. One late-night a big part of the group decided to play mafia. During it I decided to explore watercolors a little, I ended up adding a kite, because why not?

I’ve omitted a couple of watercolors here that I don’t know what they represent, and they don’t look good.

This one is based off a picture a friend took of Cape Cod. This place was incredible. It’s IMG_6141just a beach, really, but it was beautiful. The way was overcast and after we walked on the beach we headed back home. It was a moment of reflection for me, where I tried to engage my senses and absorb as much as I could of the beauty God made. My cellphone ran out of battery so I used a friend’s picture to depict a more in-land part. Again, struggles with snow.

Wohooo! That’s most of the watercolors I worked on. I also made a couple off of friend’s pictures as Thank You cards for the professors, because they were great throughout the interim.

I think you enjoyed this walk-through my watercolors. As usual, most of these are available for purchase — you can just write me an email or reach me on Instagram or Facebook to inquire pricing.

Later on I’ll also share some pictures from my sketchbook and talk a little bit more about other parts of the trip.

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. So if you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.


What Made Me Cry This Week – Naive and Begin (Music)

I usually don’t do a lot of writing about music. My ears aren’t the best, I don’t fully comprehend different musical terms and in general I just feel trying to describe my musical experiences is like trying to hold water in my hands—it all ends up slipping through. But, I thought I would still give it a try, since it was indeed the thing that made me cry this week.

I came out of the bus that had been warming me back up in the 15 minutes I was in it. While I don’t usually enjoy the cold, I pretty much despise it most of the time, as I walked out of the bus I realized today was one of those few days where I embrace the cold, where I’m happy for it to be here. One of those days where cold feels more like a blanket, than a killing machine.

As I stepped out of the bus Naive by RKCB played.

Right after it played Begin (ft. Wales), by Shallou. I was still walking towards Spoelhoef. Out in the embracing cold. And I could just feel my eyes getting filled up with the different lyrics and verses.

I think these two songs represent a lot of what I’ve been going through this semester.

Naive represents my heartache of things that didn’t work out. Often, I hoped that things maybe will come back, that they’ll be what they were again. The title and the verse “I’m not naïve,” pointed to how naïve I can be in an almost ironic way. It made me sad, but also made me want to laugh at myself. How often have I hoped for the past to come back, but I know it won’t? I’m naïve through and through, but I saw my lips moving together with those verses, understanding myself in them.

The music itself caught my attention because of how mellow it is. It’s simple, with a base sound in the background that doesn’t pull you away from the singer. Slow beats and simple texturized sounds flow in the back. But what sold the song for me were the simple yet moving lyrics.

In what’s the “climax” of the song for me, RKCB sings:

“Just promise me

You let me be inside my dreams

Where it’s not over”

I think Begin, coming right after this song gave a whole twist on the moment’s meaning. Like Naive the melody is somewhat simple and mellow, but this one has a hint of hope. It’s starts with a couple of uplifting beats and then he starts singing. There’s some nice variations in the “highlights” of the songs, but the base of the song stays steady. The voice is breathy, almost spiritual and distant.

But the lyrics again are what finally drove this song in deep—even if I’ve already heard this one in the past.

“Change your mind
‘Cause I wasn’t thinking right
We can begin at the top.”

Pretty often we hear to not be ashamed or embarrassed of our mistakes, to embrace them. And while I think there’s some degree of that that we should carry with ourselves, we should also feel comfortable to change our minds, to admit—“I wasn’t thinking right.” It’s hard to admit that we were wrong, but I think this song helps us relax and admit that we did mess up. We mess up all the time, let’s begin again.

In trying to deal with this past year, and this past semester, I had to remind myself both that I can’t go back to the beginning, to how things were. But also that I can change my mind, I can start over. I can restart myself and “Begin at the top.” It’s a paradox that I want to carry with myself.

So, as the end of the year approaches I want to remind myself of that. We can always try again, we can always recognize our mistakes, and we can always let go and move on.

I Think I Lost The Focus of It: Trying

It’s Sunday night. After Thanksgiving break. Tomorrow, it’s back to class and work again. J Andrew Gilbert, is trying to figure out what are the best ways to pretend he doesn’t have class tomorrow. The semester is ending after all.

He started thinking about a blog post. This post.

In this post, he’ll explain how he feels that in some way he doesn’t know what he is doing anymore with this blog. I mean what is its purpose? What is he trying to talk about?

When he began on his journey, he knew it was going to be hard. To keep it up and to just write. To just make a post. But even if you know things, doesn’t mean you’re prepared for it.

So far, he has written several posts related to things he likes – book reviews, mostly. He has also done self-motivational writing. Mostly meant for himself, but that he hopes someone else finds encouraging – especially other creatives like him. He has also started a web comic, that has been faulty in it’s submissions timeline.

Even within the comic itself he kind of lost himself too. What started as a play-off of his friendship with Zach, has become into a “Remember This” series. He quite enjoys the “Remember This” series as he feels it gives him more room to play with the images and “poetry” (many quote marks around poetry, please).

But, even though he doesn’t know what he is doing, and even though he doesn’t know what exactly he wants to accomplish. And that he has no real “brand.” Or no masterful plan to how he’s going to take over the internet world with his awesome writing and image-making. He does know that he enjoys doing it.

He enjoys the hardship if putting himself out there. He enjoys the pain and friction of trying to put into words thoughts, feelings. He enjoys to put give breath, a body. He enjoys writing. He enjoys drawing. And he enjoys sharing it with you.

He hopes that in something of this you find yourself a little bit encouraged. Or that you feel understood in some level, because you feel yourself represented. In an image, or a phrase. Or maybe just a line.

He isn’t no great writer, nor a great artist. But at least he’s trying. And this blog, so often, has been just about that: trying.


This month of November I had a lot of views on two blog posts that I’m really proud of, for different reasons and they have very different writing styles. If you missed them here’s a friendly link to each one:

So. This is Unedited.

Arabian Nights – Poster Design

Be sure to check Orange Unicorn’s last update.

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep trying. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – there’s a button off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

So. This is unedited.

Some days I just want to write down thoughts, and hope that the world cares. So, here we go. Unedited thoughts of a wanna be artist on a Tuesday morning to keep you entertained.

Because who hasn’t tried? Who hasn’t put their foot forward and tried? To relax, to chill, under the window sill, looking out into the fields of grey air and yellow sky.

So I walked, out into the fields of knowledge and emptiness. Listening to the Taylor Swift that was bashed by many, just because she did something? She did something that I can’t quite know what it is, because no one quite explains it, because no one quite understands it themselves do they?

It’s like the formless grey air in the morning. Sure, scientists can probably tell you it’s a combination of humidity and temperature levels creating this air we call fog. But really, that explains it? Is it not for the clouded of mind that fog happens? So that environment reflects soul? Is fog not for the soothing effects on the soul? For the beauty of breath? And is it not beautiful? Can you please tell me why it is so? I’d like to know, so I can recreate it in a painting, in a poem or in a phrase. Grey air made by an artist.

I also wanted to tell you this:

Give yourself some love. Call yourself sexy and then do a chicken dance. The fog will hide you away in its embrace.

Arabian Nights – Poster Design

The Arabian Nights production, by the Calvin Theatre Company, had it opening night this past weekend! You can get tickets here.

Since it’s opening week I decided to write a blog post explaining a bit of my design process for the poster. Keep reading if you want some tips, and ideas for when you’re working on your own projects! – Or just to be inspired, or kill some curiosity and what the whole process looked like!

So the design always starts with ideas and concepts. When I talked with the director for the play, Debra Freeberg, she emphasized the idea of lights in the night and this rich colored fabric. I really liked these visuals, and combining it with the night, went for a desert night scene to tie it in with a place.

Since the story is about stories I considered including letters from the Arabic alphabet in the sky. The idea was that these would represent stars as well as the stories told. I liked this concept because it had letters as lights – just how Sherazade’s stories, her words, bring light into the Sultan’s life. Sadly, I lost the image I did for this.

In later renditions, however, I changed this element, because the sky became too heavy and complicated. It wasn’t working as symbols for stars. Instead I embraced circles, a simpler and clearer shape, to represent the stars. Here though, the idea is still that each story is a star in the sky. I also started to play with the idea of the desert and fabrics. I had two main different versions for the fabrics, and one variation of the sky.


I preferred the one with bigger fabric over the title page, but my clients preferred the one with three stripes at the bottom. So I went with what they wanted – I still liked them both a lot.

The font choices were semi-dictated by Calvin’s brand – I incorporated their font “Gotham” into the informational text. The title was made with the same font I used for the audition poster. This one:



I reused these same fonts in all the different posters to keep consistent visual identity for the Season of Love and Forgiveness.  Eventually, there were some problems with this font choice as it didn’t work as well for the last poster, but we kept it for visual consistency – and since the posters were already printed and finalized.

Once the one with three ribbons was chosen, it was all about just finessing details, making sure the fabrics were colorful and vibrant. Adding textures to the desert, putting the stars in their place to create the right degree of randomness and pattern. I played with the colors and sizes a little bit to have some depth and interest in the sky.

Here are two different versions I played with.


From here we decided to take out the lines at the top – they weren’t necessary anymore because there were already lines at the bottom. They wanted to go with the one on the right – only orange and yellow. I decided to push a little bit here and see if I could still have some small stars be blue. I argued that it helped add interest and depth to the sky.

After that there were just small details to finish. Below you can see the low-resolution image for the result! (It’s kinda pixelated, but it shows the main points of this article.)


It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. This project, has helped me to understand how important communication between me and my clients is. If you’re ever providing a service to someone, work really hard on your communication. Make sure you’re understanding each other, if possible, do meet with them. Through conversation you’re better able to grasp what the client is thinking and feeling about your piece.

Sometimes I felt like they really weren’t liking the design, because they’d provide feedback through emails. But once I would talk with them in person than I could see how much they liked it!

I hope that if for nothing else, you were able to enjoy the process behind the poster!


I write blog posts every now and then, but am constantly working on my webcomic “Orange Unicorn.” Be sure to check Orange Unicorn’s last update.

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – there’s a button off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.


I, Multitasker

I’m a multitasker. And as science points out, I’m horrible at it. Yet, I can’t help it.

By multitasking I mean two different things simultaneously which I won’t distinguish between when using the term. But those two things are different: working on more than one project within a long time frame. Like working on a video that I’m editing and on a poster illustration during the course of a month.

Then there’s the multitasking that is when I quickly switch between tasks within a short time frame. Like when I read emails. Then open up photoshop and start drawing, then go back to answer emails, then look at social media, then go back to painting, then I look up prices for a new headphone, then I finish off writing the email, then I open up word and start writing a blog post. Phew. That was hard.

But both of these have the same benefits and disadvantages.

Benefit: more than one thing that needs to get done is getting done. Like honestly all the things I’m doing are necessary. I do need to write that email. I do have to work on the art. I do have to relax. I do need to write a blog post.

In the same way I can’t just be working on one project at one time. Otherwise I won’t be making enough money. I need to work on the video, and I need to work on the poster. And since I rely on feedback, there are times when I can’t work on one or the other. Sometimes the project is my own art too, and within my own art I’ll work on 2 to 3 pieces at the same time, to keep it going. While one is resting, sinking into me, I can work on the other one.

Disadvantage: I’m going crazy and not delivering the best I can. And right now, it feels like the disadvantage is a little bit too much.

So. Stop it. I tell you, because I know you also do it. And I’ll tell myself that too as well. But, ok. Maybe we can’t fully stop. But I do think we can stop for 10 minutes everyday and not multi-task. Focus on one thing – your body, your breath.

How are you feeling? How does your legs feel?

Your hands? Shoulders?

The muscles on your face? On your feet?

Feel your body.



I actually wrote this at the end of summer, and just edited now. But this week it felt very valid and I decided to share. Enjoy. Also, I have an episode from Orange Unicorn that relates to this.

Check Orange Unicorn’s last update.

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.