Painting away the pain

Student finds life guidance through art


Photo by Peyton Sims

Junior Montrell Denmark works on a new pencil drawing during class. Denmark discovered a way to express how he feels through his art.

Story by Peyton Sims, culture editor

He plugs in his earbuds and the world around him seems to disappear. His pencil runs across the page, new ideas flow from his mind onto the paper. When he draws, he feels like he’s sharing a part of himself with the world. Junior Montrell Denmark finds a way to portray his emotions through art. 

“My main objective is to be different and creative. I want people to feel something with my art on more of a personal level. I want people to get a deeper perspective of my own pain. I want to have a different impact on people,” Denmark said. “I’m still in high school and I want to find a way for people to know I have this talent. I’m still at [this level]. When I do get the top, I want people to know who I am.”

Denmark continuously works on new pieces of art. Pain engulfed his life in the past, but he has now discovered a new outlet that allows him to let go of his negative feelings. 

“I draw crazy things to make people ask questions. There’s so much that’s possible with just a pencil and paper,” Denmark said. “My drawings depend on my emotions. I’m thankful for the hard times because without them, I wouldn’t be able to draw what I draw. Your emotions drive a lot of your actions.”

Art therapy is a common self-help method that can help troubled teens gain self understanding, learn better coping methods and work through problems. Over 20 percent of teenagers deal with depression and choose not to tell their family or friends about how they feel. Denmark decided to keep his feelings to himself because he didn’t know who to talk to. 

 “When I was younger, it was difficult. It was hard to do anything that I liked, I was in a really bad place in my life,” Denmark said. “Drawing made [me feel better]. It was frustrating at first, and it made me want to quit a lot of the time, but it was a way for me to let go. If I could draw it, that meant I could put it behind me. When I finished a drawing, it felt like I closed a chapter in my life.” 

Moving on from his past took time, but step-by- step, Denmark moved out of the darkness that lingered in his life into a brighter beginning.

“In the past, I drew my first portrait with so much frustration,” Denmark said. “In my recent drawings, I’ve been more excited and happy. I knew I was going to California over the summer and I was ready to get away from everything.”

He anticipated the summer that lied before him. He would travel to California by himself to stay with his uncle. No friends. No family. Just time for him to find himself.

“California gave me a fresh start. I was able to get away. I didn’t have a problem with anything. I was living it up and finally had a vacation and a good time for me,” Denmark said. “This trip helped me gain confidence and made me ready to take on the rest of the year with an appropriate attitude.”

Montrell’s parents have supported his love of art ever since he was young. However, when they began noticing that he had been drawing sensitive and emotional subject matter, they were shocked that their son had hidden these feelings from them.

“My art upset some of my family members. [My parents] came up to me and said they didn’t know I felt that way. I’m not the type of person to talk about anything,” Denmark said. “I feel like if I were to talk about my [problems], I wouldn’t get anywhere with them. My family thinks they could’ve done more to help.”

Montrell is still in the process of planning out his future, but he’s certain that he’s bringing art along with him every step of the way. Just like a majority of other high school students, he doesn’t have a definite plan for his future, however, he knows that art will help him find where he needs to be.

“I want to draw my whole life out in a different way. I believe [artists] deserve a lot of recognition. There’s a lot of talent in the school that people don’t know about,” Denmark said. “Everyone knows about all of the sports, but they don’t know about the people full of creativity. If you aren’t going to talk about it, or if you don’t want to get over it, the best thing you could do is draw it.”