When I was young I saw an alien spaceship in the sky. My mum told my brother and I to draw what we had seen. Ever since then I have wanted to draw really well. I have also taught myself how to play music. Being able to draw and sing songs when I am sad helps me deal with my feelings.
Posted by: Heidi Everett, on 01/12/09
Creating the most accurate and realistic artwork possible. Image: Heidi Everett
On a cool, still evening many years ago, I saw a UFO. I was just a typical country kid mucking around in an open field with my older brother. But when we both looked up, we saw a big round silver spaceship with little windows and flashing lights fly out from behind a row of pine trees.
I think I ran the kilometre home in under a minute. I flew in the back door, screaming in terror that aliens were coming. (I was a kid, but I knew the stories…) After a few more minutes, my brother strolled in, scratching his head and saying he had seen something
a bit weird in the sky. Mum had a good idea and gave us two bits of blank paper and asked us both to go in different rooms and draw what we had just seen.
I quickly chose the dining room because it had a wonderful, big old table to work on. I grabbed my pencil case, pulled up my chair and got cracking. The crayons were great for shading in the metallic silver, but too babyish and scratchy for the outlines. So I chose freshly-sharpened pencils that were able to define the windows and mechanical profile perfectly. I carefully added animated interest to the flashing light on top of the ship and zoom lines to show which direction it was moving, and how fast. I made sure the horizon line was exact to create perspective.
Something had stirred inside me
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but nothing much more came of that evening many years ago. My brother’s drawing looked like an old sausage on a fork and my mum now claims to have not seen those sketches ever since. But something had stirred inside me. From then on, I resolved to create any artwork in the most accurate and realistic way possible. As a teenager, I was obsessed with drawing horses and I went through sketch books like toilet paper. I even drew in the blank pages of text books and library books.
In my late teens I was naughty, so I didn’t draw anything. Then I began to lose my mind, and the worst thing about that is you don’t know until you have lost it. I went through about 20 different jobs in five years, hung out with all the wrong people, and felt so depressed that I hurt myself regularly, hoping to never wake up. I was in so much pain from being so confused about everything and everyone. I eventually became so unwell that I was admitted into a psychiatric ward suffering hallucinations and suicidal depression.
It frustrated me that no one else could witness the things I was experiencing. No camera could capture the wild creatures only I saw, or record the music only I heard. With the hungry logic of a scientist, I decided to illustrate all my visions and to study music, borrowing all the books in all the local libraries to gather every skerrick of musical knowledge. I bought a cheap guitar and spent every other waking moment learning chords and mastering classical pieces. Eventually I was able to notate some of the music I was hearing from lush orchestral movements and suave New York jazz crooners. I asked only for contemporary pop after an opera diva burst my ear drums.
I now believe that for every moment you suffer, there is an equal and opposite moment where you grow. My experiences could have easily defeated me, but they have also taught me to be creative, finding ways out of the pain that numbing medications could never realise. I’m still terrified of aliens and cry bucket loads of tears from bouts of seemingly endless depression, yet being able to draw the demons and sing about the sadness helps give me keep some sort of control over my wonky existence. After all, mental illness isn’t the experience, it’s only the way you deal with it.
Support is available for anyone who may be distressed.
Lifeline - 24 hour telephone counselling - 131 114
Kids Helpline - under 18 years of age - 1800 551 800
Just Ask - rural mental health information - 1300 131 114
Men’s Line Australia - 24 hour telephone counselling - 1300 789 978
Salvation Army - 24 hour telephone counselling - 1300 363 622
ReachOut! - website for young people (opens new window)
SANE Helpline - mental illness information, support and referral - 1800 187 263
beyondblue Information Line
- information about depression, anxiety and related substance abuse disorders, treatments and help - 1300 224 636
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