By Daniel Kasperick
“Since my early teens, I have been living with an addictive personality and brain disorder. In 1988, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It was a diagnosis I had for 12 years before I was re-diagnosed as having schizophrenia, too. My full diagnosis is schizo-affective disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, an addictive personality and some hording tendencies.
“Although I have always had a creative nature—drawing cartoons of sharks and spaceships in the sixth grade—I wanted to be a doctor since a young age. I followed that dream for two and a half years at Loyola Marymount University. A huge game-changer for me happened when a friend introduced me to atheism. It made sense to me. I lost my faith in the Catholic Church, as well as my dream of making a difference in the lives of others through medicine. I wanted to put myself in the most challenging environment I could think of because I was a confident (but foolish) young man.
“So, I chose New York City. In retrospect, this was a decision made when I was completely manic. I didn't have a job, warm clothes, home, family, friends, food or God. I ended up in the YMCA for six months and got into, and out of, a lot of difficult situations. I began making art in earnest, drawing in charcoal and pastels. But my mental illness soon resurfaced. Eventually, I was hospitalized. My brother flew out from San Diego and brought me home. I moved back in with my dad and mom, and with their help, finished my bachelors’ degree in Liberal Studies from California State University, San Bernadino.
“I drifted into teaching because my parents were both teachers. I was miserable for eight years in the public school system, teaching science to middle school and high school kids. I was despondent and again turned to food for comfort. I gained more than 100 pounds in the space of two years, and I carried that burden until 2012 when I lost it all. I was married for 13 years before my wife divorced me in 2012. My mental illness was too much for her to live with, and so once again, I moved in with mom (my dad had passed in 1998). I had nothing to offer anyone, but my mother accepted me anyway.
“I went back to college and began making art once again. I took a drawing class and rediscovered my love for making art. Shortly thereafter, I began to take a course with a local artist in Carlsbad named Kene Lohmann. He taught me about watercolors, and I was soon hooked on the medium. My skills improved, and my expression became lighter and happier than it ever was before. I painted in earnest for four years, being shown at two galleries. One was at the Swift Gallery in Liberty Station, San Diego, for a display called ‘The Art of Recovery,’ which focused on art by people with mental disorders. In the past three years, I’ve had seven paintings displayed there.
“However, the crowning achievement with my watercolors was being shown at the Carlsbad Senior Center in my hometown of Carlsbad. I decided to give all the proceeds of my show to a group called Hands Together Haiti. It is a ministry for the poorest of the poor in Haiti. I had 26 of my paintings for sale. The response was greater than anything I could have hoped for. I sold 13 paintings, raising almost $1,900 for the organization and people of Haiti.
“The paintings shown here are three of my abstracts: ‘Hope,’ ‘In the Beginning,’ and ‘Paradise.’ It’s difficult to tell what is going on there. As an abstract, they are about the expression itself. Themes of weariness and suffering are softened by ideas of peace and brotherhood. I look forward to continuing my art, as I find solace and expression in the artistic process. Not so inconsequentially, I haven’t been in the behavioral health unit for more than eight years. I’m on a roll and am beginning to find sanity through my art. My belief in God is stronger than ever, too.”
Dan is a watercolor artist who lives in Carlsbad, California. He has been painting for many years and his work has been seen and sold at many San Diego area exhibits. His most recent show displayed 26 of his pieces at the Carlsbad Senior Center for the month of September. He sold 13 paintings, and with the money he raised, he contributed all proceeds to his favorite charity: Hands Together-Haiti. Dan’s artwork is largely abstract, with its meaning to be determined by the viewer. He hopes you find solace and meaning in these artworks.