Resilience through art

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dieondiere Jefferies
  • 436th Airlift Wing

Hobbies are seen as integral pieces in the puzzle of maintaining good mental health. People from many walks of life can find joy, relaxation, and social connection in their hobbies; The Airmen at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, are no different.

Art is one of the many hobbies Airmen turn to in order to relax and cope with stress. Art comes in different forms and Airman 1st Class Karmella Neal, 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron aircraft parts apprentice, has chosen painting as her medium.

“I started [painting] two years ago before I joined the Air Force,” said Neal. “I would go to these [painting] studios where they would teach you the basics of was therapeutic for me.”

Neal explained that she initially began taking art classes as a way to spend quality time with her mother. She now uses painting as a way to convey her feelings.

“I try to write down and paint it out whenever something is burdening me because then I can express it,” said Neal.

Neal’s emotions were conveyed so strongly through her art that upon seeing the images depicted Col. Bary Flack, 436th Mission Generation Group commander, was moved emotionally during an LRS Dorm of the Quarter nominee room inspection.

“I was in tears when I saw her paintings, it hit me in the heart,” said Flack. “We talked about mental health and resiliency and how she used those paintings as a coping mechanism to get out emotions and make herself more centered.”

Neal’s painting process begins when she has something she's struggling with. Then she brainstorms on what image would represent what she is feeling and what she can do to make the illustration unique to her.

Neal’s paintings usually take up to a day but can vary based on their complexity.

“When I'm trying to figure out color schemes and what brings it all together it can take me up to a week,” said Neal.

Neal’s paintings showcase an Airman’s ability to uphold the never-ending mission of resilience and self-care.

“There is an amazing story in each one of her paintings,” said Flack. “[Each painting] speaks to the heart and it drives home the [themes] of Airman Health, Airman love, Airman care, and resiliency, she's a shining example of those themes.”