Sunday, February 28, 2010


Before anything else, I have to apologize for the poor quality of the photography.  I have been trying every possible approach I can think sunlight, shaded sunlight, indoors no flash, indoors with flash...all to no avail.  My guess is that there are too many mid-tone reds for the camera to differentiate, so the whole thing is coming out very flat and some of the colors are a little off.  Most importantly, my hand-dyed domino that I made looks like a whole lot of nothing.  In reality it is marbled with wonderful shades of red and makes a very interesting focal point...if only you could see it in real life.  : {

So, about this month's BJP.  My therapist suggested I do a piece on my hidden anger.  I have a tendency to hide my negative emotions, which causes me more problems in the long run.  But I don't express it for fear of permanently alienating the person it's about.  So I hold it in.  Makes for some interesting therapy sessions!  I decided to go ahead and do what she suggested, and I chose all shades of red to depict it.  I used everything from ruby red to brown red, shiny to translucent, cubes, faceted roundels, shell, bugles, glass chips, seed beads and sequins.  And every size I could get my hands on...15's, 11's, 10's, 8's, 6's.  My thinking is that anger comes in many degrees, sometimes it lingers and sometimes it passes in a flash. 

But while I was making this, I couldn't help think about passion also.  Red is a very intense, passionate color too.  And all these extreme emotions were swirling around the center, or the "heart" of the piece.  I had intended on making this a monochromatic piece, but I just couldn't help but add the black.  I was not thinking about the black all that much until it hit me like a brick.  With all these intense emotions going on, my subconscious just had to add "the abyss". 

The abyss is part of my battle with bipolar disorder.  It's what I call the deep depressions that I fall into.  The abyss is like a huge, black, empty mass of nothing that swallows me up and I can't get out.  It's as if I get stuck in it like a tar pit, and I claw and grasp onto anything...nothing...trying to get myself out, and it's just sucking the life out of me.  In trying to describe to people what I was going through to try to make them  understand the helplessness of the depression, I came up with "the abyss".   I sometimes tell my husband that I feel as if I'm slipping and I can see the abyss.  It's a terrible feeling, to say the least.

Then added to that is a little bit of silver...the rays of hope for more normal levels of emotions.  Even the bits of hope, though, are shrouded with red...anger and passion.  A little bit of calmness trying to find it's way through this intensity.

And as I was getting close to finishing I realized what I was creating.  My therapist suggested anger, but what came out was something completely bipolar, which I am.  I went 15 years undiagnosed with this terrible illness, and after having my life fall apart and losing my husband and kids for 2.5 years I am now medicated and relatively stable.  My family is back together and I regularly see my therapist and my psychiatrist, and I take my medications religiously.  But always in my subconscious, as shown in this month's project, is the turmoil that lurks beneath the surface, like a wild animal waiting to be uncaged; the abyss waiting to again swallow me up; the passion waiting to become out of control in a fit of mania.  And right now as I am looking at it more, I see the heart completely encased around the sides in protection against all that is swirling around it.  Maybe I can know that all this is there, it is all within me, but it does not define me and it cannot take my heart with it.

Again, I apologize for the poor quality of the photo.  But, if you want, you can click on it to get a larger view.  I know what I was thinking when I created it, but I am always interested to hear what you see.  Is it different than me?


Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  Oh, btw, if you are on Facebook, click on the link on the right sidebar and look me up!  Would love to have more fellow BJP'ers on my list of friends to keep in contact with!


Barbara said...

Another lovely and very intricate piece that gives the viewer a great deal to look at with so much flow.

Carol said...

Its a beautiful piece. I think you have expressed mental state well. The red is intense, the variety of beads adds texture and friction but I don't see an abyss. I see the darkness that comes with depression, yet your dark seems to me to have a path up and out. I live with medicated depression, and live with 2 that are bi-polar with meds. I understand what you are saying here.

I'm glad you have your family back. I'm glad you have found your way to being yourself.

I'm glad that you find beading theraputic. BTW, your pics are pretty ok. Only a professional could do better.

Now, onward to April. A good month to think about rebirth.

Carol Creech said...

Hi Lisa - I agree with Carol - the picture is just fine. The piece itself is very intense with the colors, but reading your post, it really seems to represent you and your process. I agree with Carol's other comment - the black seems to be a path that you (the center bead?) are coming up and out of, and that's a good thing! The beading, as always, is intricate and amazing to me!

Robbie said...

Very nice piece...I love the 'free form' of your piece!

Carol said...

Impressive use of color!

Thanks for sharing your backstory!

Sweetpea said...

Lisa, I read your whole story before your piece scrolled into view. I can honestly say that I don't feel the abyss as overpowering - I actually feel {{{{balance}}}}.

Does that sound odd? Maybe so. But because your design is soooo strong and your placement of all the elements that you were feeling is so strong, this piece feels harmonious to me. Geesh, I'm afraid I'm not making any sense. I guess what I'm trying to say is rather than finding "Extremes" disturbing, I find it a strong statement of control...maybe not something you feel a lot of the time but within you nonetheless.

Thank you so very much for sharing your heartfelt story. And to echo others, I think the photo is just fine!

robin michelle said...

I think this is amazing. It seems to me your subconscious knew what it was doing in adding the abyss. Acknowledging it helps with perspective. This is such a passionate piece that it should feel out of control. But it doesn't to me. It feels like it has a purpose and direction because you've taken control. I really like this a lot!

Lois2037 said...

You are very eloquent, in words and in art. I, too, see the blackness, even if it is the abyss, as being a pathway out, and in, to your heart. All the different reds certainly speak of passions of all kinds. I always have a hard time getting the colors to come out right, also, but I think your photo came out oaky. I did see some extra detail in your domino when I enlarged the piece.

Kaite said...

Lisa i also see a lot of balance in there, and i agree, apologies are not needed here as the photo looks good to me. I understand that it does not look as vibrant as what you see, but hey - we're mostly not professional photographers and we're just sharing not competing here. As long as *you* have expressed what you wanted to then that's all that counts. It's a beautiful piece btw, immaculate beading. And thanks for your thoughtful comments on mine, Kaite.

Dees said...

Oh Lisa, as I sit here and read your story my eyes are filled with tears. I know so well what you mean when you say the abyss can just swollow you and suck all the life out of you!
I love your piece, how it depicts who you are with everything included. You are a beautifull woman and courageous too to be able to share all this. Wish I could give you a hug right now.
Whenever the abyss is calling again: be sure to hollor! Maybe we can hold hands and Not fall in.

Cyndi L said...

I think this is an amazing piece. I feel tension when I look at it, because I'm *trying* to make it balance, but it feels slightly tipped, or like everything is sliding into the dark crack. I am heartened that this is NOT what you are currently feeling and that your heart is secure!


Ralonda said...

After reading your story- I began to look for the hope- or the representation depicted by the beads of that hope. That would be my nature though- I find it interesting that folks use red to express anger-- I find it too be representative of boldness and empowering, and unfortunate that it is associated with how rage empowers someone to act without abandon. I have to say your abyss is related to me(in this piece) as chains or bondage. But they appear to be breakable or in the very least loosing their power as it near you (the domino). This peice should empower you to realize you are worth others knowing that they have crossed the line- mark you boundaries and take authority over them. In spiritual warfare it could be called the "Blood line"

beadbabe49 said...

The photo is actually very good...even professional photographers have trouble photographing beadwork and rarely have I seen a photograph that does justice to it.
I also see both movement and balance in this piece and wonderful's a great use of color and I love all the beads you used to express your theme...bravo!

sydsider said...

A very controlled yet passionate piece. Thank you for sharing you story. Very moving and full of hope.

Whytefeather said...

I second most the previous comments. The photo does look fine to me, great use of color and flow. I find it to be a balanced representation of how any passion and even depression can relate to the center(you)... the swirl effect is wonderful. Thank you for sharing the back story, I'm not bi-polar but have had my own dealings with depression and rage/anger in the past. If you ever need a shoulder or just some one to rant to... give me a shout, I'm a great listener :)

Lisa Criswell / Indigo's Beads said...

where do i begin? thank you all so much for giving me your perspectives on my march piece. some differ from mine, but i truly appreciate that because that's what i find so fascinating about improvisational bead tells a story a little differently to each of us.

barbara, thank you for your comment...i'm a little concerned that my work is TOO much chaos going on. do you think i've taken it too far?

several of you saw the black pathway as a way out, when i saw it as the spiral down. i think i will have to reassess my own thinking on this. also on the balance. it was very emotional for me in creating it, sometimes a little tumultuous, so it's nice to think even through that i achieved balance. inner peace maybe?

dees...hugs to you. i'll have to remember to holler at you when i need a hand! and you, too, whytefeather! it's so amazing to be in a group of people brought together through a common art. i appreciate the extended hands!

thanks to all of you!!!

Dee D said...


Plays with Needles said...

Congratulations on having the courage to tell your story and I agree with Bobbi that your photograph is fine. Color is tricky though, I know what you mean.

As for your piece, like Sweetpea i see balance too and control. Almost like swirls around you -- a part of yourselfk but, knowing the swirls are there you are not being carried away by them...rather you are centering them.

I do not have depression myself but I live with a husband who does. And I know this abyss of which you speak...because I see it in his eyes when he starts to have a bad spell. And that's when I get busy...because the more he focuses on the lip of that abyss, the fear compounds and before you know it he IS over the edge. I wasn't as good at catching the warning signs when I was working full time and raising a I'm very keyed into it and I play a crucial role in helping him to focus on something other than himself/his fears at those times. Channeling energy on what exists that IS good, how beautiful his life really IS, helping others who are so much worse off...and generous daily doses of laughing at ourselves and hugs and kisses and crying and love.

Not sure if that makes any sense, but maybe one of your future journal pieces will be about all the other colors of your beautiful rainbow...because they are there.

xo Susan

Lynn said...

Leave it to you to turn such an awful thing into a work of art. Honestly I see the piece as empowering (like others did). I was expecting this angry ugly scary piece and yet when I got to your photo I was surprised to see how beautiful it was. You know we are all here for you -

Terri said...

First off ((((((HUGS))))))) for your journey thus far!!!:) Regardless if you interpret the black as a path or cliff, I see you have created a bridge across it!!! I just finished my RED piece. Focused on the Root Chakra= (fear, anger, think being immobilized by overwhelm) When a person feels safe in their world, the red represents flow, the removal of obstacles, and in your case, stepping over them. Fabulous!!!

Bobbi said...

Hi Lisa, my heart feels and hears your words and sees the balance and happiness yours now holds!
Your piece is wonderful...very well done!
Hugs and happy beading...