Flower Mandalas

Flower Mandalas


Art & the Art of Managing Pain: Billy Bob Beamer

beamer6_small.jpg
Art & the Art of Managing Pain
by Billy Bob Beamer
Much of this article first appeared in FMOnline
I graduated from college in the early 70s, having completed a degree in sociology, with a focus in the sociology of art. I didn’t take any studio art courses, but immersed myself in art history, especially the art of the Middle Ages, and sought to understand how cultural values are formed and reflected by the arts of any given age. Essentially self-taught, I began to draw and paint after college graduation. But I had no idea that one day my art hobby would be as important to me as my 30-plus-year career in the field of social services and social services administration. That is because I did not know then—-and didn’t know for most of my professional career–what I would one day learn: that I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome (FM/CFIDS). Thanks to art, though, these disorders don’t have me.
How it began: In the 70s I became frustrated by the “floaters” in my eyes. Those who, like me, are nearsighted will understand how infuriating these floating cells in the eyeball can be! But I have always found myself interested in most things (and people), even frustrating ones. And that included my floaters—-what I later learned are called “entopic” images or imagery derived from the body or body processes when used in art. I began to draw these little floaters, and over time, began to see that they arrived on paper as linguistic signs and symbols. I continued to paint traditional landscapes, portraits, and even abstractions. But I always came back to the “floater drawings,” which I started calling “Messages” to reflect what I understood as their linguistic base.
Jump forward 20 years. I had been growing increasingly ill, and was finally diagnosed with FM/CFIDS. Through the years I began to—-and continue to—-participate in many treatment modalities including medications, osteopathy (OMT), massage, and biofeedback. It was while participating in biofeedback that I learned I could induce a trance-like state by the act of repetitive (some say obsessive-compulsive!) drawing, i.e., my “Messages.”
My works visually explore mystical ideas and prayer/meditation/healing processes, as well as my intuitive understanding of string theory, the vibratory interconnectedness of all things, and multiple universes. Like all art, though, the works are ultimately about themselves and the viewer’s involvement with them. At this time, I am concentrating on drawing–that most basic mode of communication–in a small format. To paraphrase Blake: “the universe lies in a grain of sand.” My best way to realize incalculable enormity is to create its contrasting opposite, seen in the often faintly drawn, small-to-smallest lines, signs, and symbols. At some point, the viewer needs to see my works through magnification–not a gimmick but a major part of the interactive process. This method becomes a way of revealing initially unseen details in the drawings, as well as random miniscule particles, fingerprints, and detritus–the latter arriving unexpectedly onto the glass and frame surfaces and interacting with the drawings in unplanned, ever changing, interconnected ways.
However, it is the process of creating the ink or pencil messages—-the tiny interwoven lines—-that causes the trance-state to which I refer. Other pictorial elements are created first, or added later, as suggested by the weaving lines themselves. I have not been involved in active research of this altered consciousness phenomenon, but in discussion with psychologists and others, I suspect that not only am I creating a distraction from pain, but am also affecting alpha waves in the brain. Certainly the creative process of “messages” drawing creates an alert but relaxed state—-and, most important, reduces pain.
I hope to be able to help others by teaching the methods of my activities—-similar perhaps to knitting, crocheting, etc. I am pleased that my work continues to attract the attention of galleries and collectors, which also allows me to share my FM experience.
John Yimin of Outsider Art has written that my work “lies in a world, somewhere between what you see and what you think.” I don’t think I can top that. Those interested in reading about and seeing more of my art from the last several years can go to http://www.outsiderart.info/. There, a link is provided to U*Space Gallery in Atlanta, Ga., which is one of several galleries that represents my art in the US.
Contact Information:
U*Space Gallery
Outsider Art
email Billy Bob Beamer
Discussion:
Art & the Art of Managing Pain
Art, Healing, and Transformation group
Cultivating Creativity group
Flower Mandalas Project group


Request a flower mandala screensaver: Fifteen Flower Mandalas
© 2008, Billy Bob Beamer



  • Jennifer

    As you are presently presenting this method, I can see that it could be helpful to a few people, but it is too esoteric for most people to be able to benefit from it. I think there is a nugget in there that needs to be more widely understood, but some kind of cultural re-framing needs to occur.

  • billy bob beamer

    Jennifer–I can appreciate what you are saying. Making the process sound too esoteric is my problem. In fact–in practice–however, the process I train in has–according to evaluations and reports of participants–helped numbers of folks…which is really my only interest.One participant, who went through hip surgery, stated he cut his meds for pain in half, by drawing and thus inducing a trance. A young woman–who describes herself as a”bulemic, alcoholic, cutter”–said the drawing/meditation process has helped, along with other therapies, in reducing (or replacing)these compulsive behaviours….But I do appreciate your comments, and they do need to be given consideration as I share my work.
    Thanks!
    billy bob beamer

Previous Posts

The Transformative Power of Art (2)
In Paris, Doors to Other Cities Here's another example of the transformative power of art and its ability to connect us. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz8L4MJMXgQ[/youtube] More anon, David Store: Flower Mandalas CafePress store Book: Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas book preview (Kic

posted 12:36:23pm Dec. 06, 2014 | read full post »

The Transformative Power of Misfortune (5)
"Everything Happens for a Reason" I often hear the phrase "Everything happens for a reason" when I talk with people about their lives. The usual context is that something unexpected, often something bad, has occurred either in the distant past or more recently, and with a philosophical shrug and a

posted 12:24:49am Nov. 23, 2014 | read full post »

The Transformative Power of Misfortune (4)
Another post from a reader: A Journey of a Lifetime Being stranded at the bus stop in Rosendale more than 5,000 miles from home and a random act of kindness has led to an unbelievable journey for a SUNY Ulster student from the Republic of Azerbaijan. When Gulnar Babayeva arrived in the Hudson

posted 1:30:55pm Nov. 16, 2014 | read full post »

The Transformative Power of Art (1)
Haas & Hahn: How Painting Can Transform Communities Here's an example, on a big scale, of the transformative power of art! In a TED talk, artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn demonstrate how they built community and transformed neighborhoods by through painting -- and by throwing neighborhood

posted 10:00:20am Nov. 11, 2014 | read full post »

The Transformative Power of Misfortune (3)
A poem about her triumph over adversity from a reader: I could write to you about a grown up run away child that really ... Loved to love- Got beat up by a man that I loved That was 2009 I went to Kauai Walked and swam Looked at beautiful things Transformed I returned to the scene of the cri

posted 9:16:20am Nov. 10, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.