Overcoming grief through art
Terica Dillas turned to art to help get through her heartbreak.
She’d been devastated in 2016 by the loss of Antoine Dillas, the father of her four children — Antoine Jr “AJ”, 27, Chande, 25, Unique, 14, and Alicia, 10.
The couple had divorced five years earlier, but the 52-year-old remained her best friend.
“Anything that happened in my life, I picked up the phone and called him,” she said. “Losing him was hugely overwhelming.”
For a year she floundered.
“I had a difficult time finding a way to deal with losing him,” the 45-year-old said.
“We met when I was 17. He was my best friend my whole life and him not being here is such a huge adjustment.”
Her son, AJ, fell in love with art while a student. She was watching him paint when inspiration struck.
“We were sitting on the floor. He was painting and he looked so peaceful sitting there with his brushes and canvas that I said I wanted to try.”
She was surprised to discover just how much she enjoyed it.
“It was the most therapeutic thing.”
Desai Jones, a friend on Facebook, encouraged her to try The Dirty Pour.
“It’s a technique where you pour all the paint in a cup and empty it on to the canvas,” Ms Dillas explained. “The images are so vibrant and I was so fascinated but I felt it was his style; it wasn’t my voice.”
She searched YouTube for ideas and came across The String Pull. With that method, black paint is poured on white canvas. Yarn is then dipped in a different colour of paint and pulled over the canvas before the black paint dries. It takes Ms Dillas about 30 minutes to complete a painting.
“It just screamed my name,” she said. “The very first time I did it, it was so amazing that I thought it was a one-off, but I did another and it was even more intricate.
“It’s such an easy process and it helped me a lot. I’ve finally found something I’m passionate about and it’s so therapeutic.”
Her son was very encouraging and she got “such a positive response” from the pictures she posted on Facebook.
Stephanie Lee, a friend who works at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, forwarded them to Flora Goodall, the gallery’s special exhibits and events co-ordinator.
“Flora asked if I’d consider doing an art show,” Ms Dillas said. “I did about 19 paintings, thinking she’d choose five or six and the rest would hang in my front room. She took them all to work and they were such a huge hit with her office that she wanted more.
“My son was an art student in high school and was absolutely passionate, but I’d never picked up a paintbrush until last November. Who knew?
“With art, you can focus on whatever you’re feeling and release it into what you’re doing. Everybody needs an outlet and I found a healthy way to do it and it turns out people like it.”
Her former husband “would have loved” her art.
“He was the most supportive person,” she said. “Because it’s so abstract, whatever is in you is what you see in the painting; for anybody who likes abstract art it’s just fantastic. It evokes such expression of freedom and movement on the canvas. It’s like dancing almost.”
•EsoTerica: Go With the Flow, opens Friday at 5.30pm at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. The exhibit runs until August 15 inside Salty Lime @ Homer’s Cafe
Roland Skinner (1940-2018)
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