Student stories: Alistair McIntyre - The Open College of the Arts
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Student stories: Alistair McIntyre

In the 1990s I was diagnosed with a severe mental health issue and although treated with medication and enjoying most of my time in a well condition I occasionally have some time when I suffer from anxiety and depression. 

It was during one of these times that I forced myself (I say forced because I really found it difficult to do even the most minor of tasks) to start a painting. I knew creating things had a positive benefit on mental health and I used it for such, but never before had I been so low that I couldn’t find any motivation at all. I usually put a brave face on and carried on. Anyway I had the materials and I had been contemplating an idea from before I was feeling like this so that was my starting point. I drew (if you could call it that) a very rough sketch which took me about 5 minutes. I then got a canvas and instead of marking it out as I had so often done I decided to just paint. I painted the sky and blotted out an area which was hard going but I persevered and worked on. I found that time slipped away from me and I got lost in the process. Who cares what this turns out like I’m finding me again I thought and carried on and before I knew it was dark. It was the same the next day, same painting and a little easier to get started, until its completion at the end of the third day, when I felt like my old self again. The finished painting I liked but that wasn’t the important part. It was the process. The subject was an imaginary scene from my child hood and it changed a few times as I painted and finished a joyful scene. The lesson I learned was that the creative process can greatly affect my mood and just as much if not more than when I look at other artists work.  Whatever platform that might take; music, writing, drawing, painting, sculpting, whatever creative outlet you use remember the process of creating can and will affect your mental health and wellbeing sometimes more than we realise and in a positive way, because as artists we need to create. 

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Posted by author: Alistair McIntyre
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5 thoughts on “Student stories: Alistair McIntyre

  • Hi Alistair, great to read this and I agree, the actual process of painting is a rebalancing moment. You have inspired me to fight my way out of my office and into my garage (studio!) !

  • Hi Alistair, thank you for sharing your experiences. I know the outcome wasn’t the important part of painting but I love the image. It is an amazing painting and I am really drawn to it. I love the subject , composition and painting style and the way the colours repeat throughout. But mostly because it makes me feel happy . Thanks

  • Alistair, your painting caught my attention. I like the pools of light reflected on the grass and the simple joy of living or being the figures convey.
    I’m glad the process of painting and thoughts about doing it for yourself dominated your thoughts and… there’s freedom within it.

  • Hi Alistair, this was a very touching read, thank you for sharing. Your painting is transfixing in that it encompasses so many familiarities of what it means to be human. There is a togetherness and isolation all at once. I love the strong colours you have used as this to me signals hope.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I like your work very much. I like the colours, perspective and detail.

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