Alyssa Black’s new collection, Lost in the Woods, came to life as a way for Alyssa to process loss. Grieving during a pandemic, she found the consuming process of stippling and mark making therapeutic as she methodically depicted the minutiae of a forest landscape.
After four months of working on this collection, she has a new appreciation for her creative practice. She says, “The power of art in helping with mental health and well-being is a gift I have utilized for years without really understanding the depths of its power.”
Lost in the Woods started out as a way for me to move through fear, fear of the unknown, fear of sharing something different, but secretly it was a way for me to work through grief.
The collection started with pieces that fear had left unfinished in my sketchbook for years. Many of the pieces sat in my sketch book for months or years waiting to be finished, waiting for me to put the final touches on them and share with the world.
The optimist in me could say they were waiting to present themselves at a time when I was ready and needing to push through something and grow myself as an artist. Who really knows??
Most of the time I am a glass half full kind of gal, despite suffering from depression and anxiety. But I must say finding the silver lining or positive side to losing someone I had known for almost my entire 30 years seemed impossible.
Grieving is a lot like a roller coaster, but I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be to grieve my best friend during a pandemic. Being isolated has made the highs and the lows that much more intense but surprisingly it has given me a gift I didn’t know I needed: time and space to feel all of the feelings and the freedom to just create.
I decided to pick up the pieces left half finished in my sketchbooks. Pushing through those moments of fear and anxiety, working in a meditative way, dot after dot, line after line, until I found their rhythm, my rhythm, and that release of fear or anxiety.
The repetitive motion of stippling, dot after dot, gives room to either sink into the emotions I feel, or to let them wash away as I sink into a meditative trace.
The process slowly evolved into something more than moving through fear, into something to help me when the lonely set in. The lonely when there isn’t room for your emotions. When those around you don’t understand you or can’t relate or your emotions are too intense so you shrink them and hide them inside.
These pieces are the manifestation of those moments of shrinking and burying emotions. The tangled branches that form a dense forest hiding all of the parts that are too much, too sad, too intense, and too dark to see the light. All those times I kept to myself because it wasn’t the right time to talk about it, I made a piece.
Putting up all of the pieces together, created over the last 4 months, I realized a gift I have been receiving from my style of art for years: the meditative practice of stippling and mark making.
The power of art in helping with mental health and well-being is a gift I have utilized for years without really understanding the depths of its power.
The act of placing line after line of the trees and dot after dot of the hills allows me to practice patience. The repetitive motion of stippling, dot after dot, gives room to either sink into the emotions I feel, or to let them wash away as I sink into a meditative trace.
The power of art in helping with mental health and well-being is a gift I have utilized for years without really understanding the depths of its power. Learning how to channel my emotions, moving through pain, grief, and depression in a way that I can look back on as pieces that remind me of the beauty within the pain but I can use as a reminder that those emotions are just moments in time. With gratitude l for this gift, I am intrigued to see how I can share this beyond pieces of art, but also as meditative art sessions—because everyone needs an emotional outlet, these days especially.
Lost in the Woods has helped me in ways I do not think I can truly articulate, and my hope is that a piece will speak to that part of you hidden away amongst the trees gazing out at the beautiful view in the distant.