How Art, Nature and Colored Pencil Can Heal!

How Art, Nature and Colored Pencil Can Heal!

by Galal Ramadan

I suffered all my life from Bipolar disorder which is a mental condition marked by alternating periods of elation and depression. Despite the mood extremes, people with bipolar disorder often don't recognize how much their emotional instability disrupts their lives and the lives of their loved ones and don't get the treatment they need. I was misdiagnosed and mistreated many times. I enjoyed the feelings of euphoria and cycles of being more productive. However, this euphoria is always followed by an emotional crash that caused me depression, worn out — and sometimes in financial, legal and relationship trouble. And, my persuasion of art was no exception. What made the matter worse is in my youth the public schools in my home country did not have the resources to support art classes for young kids. Art was considered a luxury. As a youth I worked in various unrelated artistic jobs, but I did some sketching, en plein air oil and gouache and I participated in a few group exhibitions.

When I was very young, perhaps four or five years old, I used to surprise my older brother with my work. While he painted in oil and water colors, I would sit on the floor with a sheet of construction paper and pencil on my lap and draw what he was painting.

My lovely daughter Sara by Galal Ramadan
16 1/2" x 19" Prismacolor and Faber-Castell GoldFaber on Pastelmat

In 1985, I immigrated to the USA to start a new life and settled in New York. There I pursued a college degree in commercial art, and worked for Hallmarks Nameplates of Farmingdale, NY. I enjoyed mixing ink for the silkscreen presses for new runs, and matching the colors to the original runs. I soon became known for doing so with great accuracy. Happy customers make for a happy boss, and I was promoted to production supervisor. I started my family and my responsibilities have grown as well as my ambition.

In 1988, I saw an opportunity to work at the largest newspaper in the Tampa Bay, FL, area. There I was a graphic artist, designing customers’ ads and newspaper layouts. While working at the newspaper I started my own graphic art and marketing business. This experience sharpened my eye for detail, but also taught me to work under extreme deadlines.

Tulips Blossom by Galal Ramadan 
19" x 13 1/2" Prismacolor and Faber-Castell GoldFaber on Fabriano Artistico paper

I worked with some of the leading health insurance providers in the state marketing and management teams to establish the foundation of market plans and strategy, getting the approval of the health plans by obtaining state and federal licenses and launching ad campaigns and establish regional and satellite offices.

Until the 1980s graphic designers presented their customers with proof sketches done by hand, using colored pencils or markers. Illustrations made up some of the design concepts, and other artwork was hand drawn and scanned to be included in the overall design. With the introduction of Mac computers, artists gradually began transitioning from drawing and painting to computer-generated images. I followed that trend and became adept in the use of computers for graphic arts projects.

In 2015, after retirement, my desire for fine art sparkled in me again. I did not know how to start and I was inspired by the beautiful work of the members of Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA). I decided to try colored pencils and I bought a small set of Prismacolor. Immediately I fell in love with them and started self-taught colored pencil art and techniques.

It was a game change in my life and healing. I felt alive like never before and entering another world but it is more real.

With the beginning of expressing my emotions through building images’ details in photo-realistic style I discovered my inner voice and the connection with my deepest feelings and emotions. Expressing them through color, form and shape and texture releases their hold on me, clearing the way for healing. It relaxes and quiets my overworked and unbalanced brain, significantly lessens my stress, and helps me to stay focused. This has been an absolute awakening.

My work reveals my fascination of nature and culture matters and appreciation of the basic elements of art and life. My future goals are not only to master colored pencils the techniques but also to create my own style. Colored pencils allowed me to achieve practically any desired effect.

Egypt: History and Culture I by Galal Ramadan 
17 1/2" x 26" Prismacolor and Faber-Castell GoldFaber on Stonehenge paper

I have to love my subject matter before painting them. I started to make a series of paintings related to the Egyptian history and culture. My reference photos are a combination of my own and other professional photographers’ using them to start my composition.

My artwork “Egypt, History & Culture” was awarded 3rd place and Juries’ acknowledgment of Mastering Colored Pencil Medium at Boca Raton Artists Guild Spring 2019 juried exhibition at ArtServe, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

About Galal:

Galal Ramadan is a self-employed graphic designer and marketer. He is an award-winning self-taught colored pencil artist. He was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt and now resides in Boca Raton, FL. He participates in solo and in various juried group exhibitions. He is teaching colored pencil classes and workshops at several locations in Broward and Palm Beach counties, Florida. He is an active member of several national and international art associations.

Comments (1)

Thank you for sharing Galal Ramadan’s story! I have struggled with being bipolar my entire life and had similar challenges along the way. It was wonderful to hear another’s point of view and how art calms and centers us. The joy of euphoria is incredible but the despair of depression always follows. I would be a hollow soul if I didn’t have my art. I have had spurts of productivity during my manic phases and at the other end of the spectrum, many days without sitting at my desk during the depression. I know that’s part of it, the down side, but I dread it all the same. Again, I say thank you for sharing this story. It’s nice to know I’m not alone out there, in this beautiful, crazy world!

Jill Whatley - May 26, 2019

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