"TLG", Acrylic on 24" x 24" Gallery Wrapped Canvas
Soul Searching: TLG
"TLG" - The second painting in the series, inspired by "The Voices In My Head".
Travis Green from Raleigh, NC. Born in Middlesex, NC. Today Travis is an artist and author selling books on Amazon.
Soul Searching with TLG:
I first met Travis when we took painting workshop together at Jerry's Artarama in Raleigh.
At the workshop we talked a bit about art and shared our instagrams with each other. After some time a few of his posts caught my attention. He was talking about standing at a bridge contemplating suicide. My heart ached for him. I understood that pain. I understood it from my own life and from loved ones too - An uncle I was close to leapt from a bridge when I was in third grade. and another close family member called me when he was on the brink of giving up on life a few years ago.
After reading Travis's IG posts I thought his story would connect with others too and maybe help them in some way. I asked if he was interested to share his story in the Soul Searching (formerly "Voices") series . I’ve completed the painting, and now here is his story.
Travis’s story in his own words
When I got towards middle school things did begin to get a little bit more worse with the bullying cause not only was I beginning to get bullied even more, I was also faced with homosexuality. That was something that had really, well I had never dealt with before because how does a person deal with something that you’re really not supposed to.
Growing up in my family there was a thing - being gay was just something that was not good for a person so I was faced with what do I do with this type of situation. I mean how do I confront this situation. So, I think at that time of my life I was running away from myself, I was running away from the bullying. I think I was more in a complete space of my own, closed from everybody.
I guess some people tried to be friend or tried to be with me. I closed myself from everybody cause I didn’t know how to deal with life, I didn’t know how to deal with all the pressures that were happening with me.
Now I will say again as far as the math the science the history and those part of things that did help me to keep going to keep fighting cause I loved school a lot. Aside from what happened as far as the bullying and the homosexuality I did love school and I did love to go and learn so that was one of the things that really helped me out a lot. Just to be there listening to the teachers talk and talk about different things and about the world and what we needed to learn and what we needed to go home and study, that really helped me.
Going from Middle School to high school – high school I would say it was more tougher in high school than I would say in middle school. Because you know when you go in high school there’s more, you know, development, there’s more people there in classes. Nothing doesn’t get easy it gets a little bit tougher and you have to know how to deal with anything that comes your way and at that time going through high school I was still trying to deal, I don’t think I never really confronted the bullying or the homosexuality like I should have, you know between middle school and high school.
So, in high school you have so many people there and the bullying really got tough. I don’t even know how I made it through but I knew it had to be the help of God cause God did have a power he did have a plan for me in life. I can say that listening to God that definitely helped me out a lot.
And I can also say that around tenth grade that’s when I got introduced to art. I had never really thought about art as something that I’d really love to do but when I met my art teacher Miss Kelly Williams, she had really inspired me to do something I never really thought I could do. Cause when I first started drawing, I could not draw worth anything. I was drawing stick figures and tryin to learn how to color. But her staying with me and mentoring me and coaching me it really helped me to grow and then that began to help me actually with the bullying and the whole homosexuality lifestyle. Drawing all the time it was something I could escape into other worlds and be able to express myself in different ways. So when I was drawing portraits (I love to draw portraits) that was like using my own emotions and creating different scenes inside of people you know it was just like my own unique style and that unique style helped me to overcome those obstacles with the bullying and the homosexuality at that time. So that was, I would definitely say being an artist it really helped me in life it really gave me inspiration and creativity beyond my wildest dreams I would definitely say.
In about I would say around 12th grade, when I was graduating, I had got accepted into North Carolina State University. At first, I was supposed to be majoring in art and design and a minor in electrical engineering but I soon found out it was electrical engineering that was definitely something I didn’t want to do at that time. That was very tough. So I went into art and design. But art and design was not for me, I was more of a fine artist than a designer.
Eventually what I decided to do at NC State University I majored in English with a concentration in creative writing. I felt with creative writing I would still have that art side a part of it so I could still use my writing abilities with my art and create something very unique so in college it was very interesting going to classes.
I mean, I wasn’t bullied in college. The whole atmosphere was very different. But I was again, I had never confronted the bullying with the homosexuality I just kept everything inside so when you keep everything inside from elementary school to middle school to high school, you know when you get older you have all these problems all these problems whirling at you at random moments and you don’t know how to deal with it. So as much as I was going to college and going to classes and trying to focus, trying to focus on the good times trying to focus on family I was still dealing with something I had never really confronted.
That’s what lead to the bridge thing. It might a been around about 2008 -2009 it was one night I think everything had come to me at one time. I was standing at the bridge just thinking about everything – the bullying, the homosexuality, I mean I was thinking about my life as a artist, my life as a writer, and I didn’t know if I could really fit into this world. I didn’t know if people could really accept me because of homosexuality. I didn’t know how someone so young from elementary school, a young boy that was so nice so loving so peaceful, how someone like that could get hurt and get mistreated so bad in life. Those were the thoughts that was running, well racing inside my mind when I was at the bridge just thinking about those things just thinking about me being gay I was like "How do I deal with that lifestyle", I mean how can I accept myself for me and try to move forward. It was just so many things that was weighing me down. I was so close to jumping off that bridge that night.
Before it happened, it seemed like there was like a light maybe like a flashing light something that shined so bright, it shined so bright in my eyes. It had to be God that was telling me not to do it. In that moment it’s like I stepped back from the bridge. When I stepped back from the bridge there was this burst of energy that seemed to help me. To show me that I needed to keep moving forward.
So, despite the obstacles, I mean despite everything that have happen with the bullying with the suicide, the homosexuality. I would definitely say I have learned that you have to keep going. You have to keep chasing after your dreams.
There’s always going to be an obstacle in your life, there’s always going to be something that may try to slow you down. But you have to follow your heart. You have to believe that you can achieve. When you learn that you can achieve there’s nothing that can really stop you. You become this powerful entity that can go beyond your wildest dreams and chase after what you’re looking for. So, you just have to understand in life that you must not give up. You have to believe in yourself. You have to do things regularly that block out any negativity. You have to say to yourself this is me this is my life this is what I’m going to do.
To be this better person. I’m not going to let anything conquer me. God put us in this world so that we can achieve. So, we must achieve and not let anything break us down. That is what I would definitely say for myself, I would say for the public, I would say for the kids that’s growing up in school cause bullying now is getting very tough now in this society that we live in. So, it’s a lot harder now for children trying to deal with it. But we just have to try to work together, you know, well unity. We have to try to build something together so that we can all see the importance of humanity. We all are one. We all can do this. We love one another and keep striving to be better.
Questions & Answers
Question: When you were on that bridge what year were you in college?
Answer: I was in my sophomore year.
Question: How long ago was that?
Question: Since then, how has your life changed? How have your thoughts changed or do they remain the same? Do you use it as a second chance at life situation?
Answer: I do use it as my second chance in life. I’ll always say too, again with the bridge
scene, you do have those crazy flashbacks you know when you may be at that moment like (I think I might a been at that moment a couple weeks ago) where you have those crazy flashback and you’re thinking “am I going to be able to conquer this.” There may be that moment where you start thinking back to the bullying or thinking back to the homosexual lifestyle. And it may try to bring you down but I try not to let it bring me down. I try my best to keep saying I have to try to achieve this is what I’m doing in life. Yeah I would definitely say.
Question: When you graduated, you probably took a job like everybody does, but then you kept drawing or painting, or writing? what did you do with your creativity?
Answer: I was working at Food Lion I was still drawing but I wasn’t able to really draw like I wanted to so it was kinda hard to really embrace the creative style like I should embrace it. Even now I’m working at Zerox now and it’s definitely hard to be a artist. There’s nights when I get off at 11pm and I don’t get home ‘til 12am. When I get home at 12 tryna get home and try to jump into the creative field which can be very hard. But that’s something that I have to do because I think when I’m drawing it helps me block out the pain of what happened years ago, the bullying the homosexuality and the bridge scene. But I will say that all those things that‘ve happened I will say that I can see that there is probably like, I guess some part of me feels like I may not belong sometimes. Sometimes I do feel like that but I try not to let it get to me. I guess growing up again, the bullying the lifestyle, and trying to understand the world that does get to me a little bit when I feel like I’m not wanted or not a part of this world but I try to suppress those emotions cause I believe that is negativity talking to me so I try to suppress it and try to keep going and block it out.
Question: About your poetry, I know you just released a book on Amazon, can you talk a little bit about how you got to the point (the writing part) from after you graduated until this book.
Answer: It wasn’t until the beginning of last year when I decided to do writing. It was something that I had never done. It was something that I could express myself, with the writing I could express myself vividly in words to the world or to put out to the public. In writing I was able to release various emotions in my work. I think in each poem I talk about life, I talk about the bullying, I talk about homosexuality, I talk about relationships, I talk about love, I talk about breakups. I try to put it in words where in society we all have struggles we all have obstacles we all have the good times the bad times. It’s about embracing each of those moments and learning something from it.
I think there was one poem I wrote in my life as a poet, I wrote a poem about her broken body. It was about a young girl who was in pain (relating this to bullying episode) she was in pain and she was standing beside the window. She was trying to suppress her emotions, she was pacing back and forth looking outside, eyes was teary red. I was standing a distance from her looking at her, the emotions that she was feeling inside of her it was like the emotions were sifting inside of me and I could feel everything all at once what she was feeling. That’s why I say in real life when you’re seeing various people, cause we don’t know what people are going through, everybody is going through something. So, when you’re seeing people you can kinda feel their emotions. Whether it’s people that may be suffering from depression or suffering from rape, or suffering from any obstacle in life. We just have to try to be there for them. That’s what I try to use in my poetry.
When I’m writing I try to relate various things in life and put it in words especially with “Death of a Poet”. “Death of a Poet” was one of the books I talked about anger, I talked about pain, I talked about love and rejection. because we all have been at a point in life where we have been rejected. We may have been rejected from love, we may have been rejected from friends or rejected from family and at that point we felt like we didn’t belong. In rejection, there is goodness in it too. Because you begin to understand the rhythm of the world and how things operate. So, it’s just a matter of understanding and a matter of trying to keep going despite any obstacles that may come your way. That’s what I use in my poetry, talking about real life things in society. In all 7 books I have written so far, and I’m planning on writing another one too.
Question: Are all 7 books on Amazon?
Question: Can you tell me more about the other books? What made you start? Why did you decide to self-publish?
Answer: I would say, what actually made me decide to start writing was one of my friends Marjorie, she’s writer and she writes poetry. I was actually inspired by her at that time and at the beginning of last year to do my own writing and getting it published. At first, I was going to do traditional publishing but traditional publishing costs a lot of money, maybe 2 or 3 thousand dollars just to do traditional publishing. But with Marjorie she had told me about this self-publishing website that I had never heard about. So, with self-publishing I mean, it’s easier to self-publish but it’s harder because you have to promote it yourself. But I can definitely say you know with self-publishing I have learned how to be my own individual. You know, being able to create the book myself, it really have showed me a lot about the whole publishing process. But I will say too, that with my very first book I wrote the autobiography “The Makings of Life and Dreams”, that details a lot of you know everything that had happened from Middlesex Elementary School to Middle School to Southern Nash High School. So that talks about everything with my family. You know the good times; it talks about the bullying, what happened with the bullying, what happened in middle school.
I left that part out earlier, but the part that in middle school, I think this might a been a time when my mom was going to work at night and there was times then in middle school, I was at the point of killing myself in middle school. I didn’t tell anybody about that, but almost every night I was holding a blade to my chest, but every night just something seemed to stop me from doing it but It was very crucial at that time too in my life in middle school cause I don’t think I really knew how to deal when you’re that young you don’t know how to really deal with anything cause you’re still growing you’re still developing into this whatever this type of person you’re going to be in life so you’re trying to develop but then you’re trying to deal with school you’re trying to deal with students and deal with everything around you in the world. That’s what kinda caused the whole blade scene that was very crazy. There was a lot of nights where I may have cried myself to sleep just thinking about how a young boy that only wanted to be happy and wanted the best for everybody - how someone could really hurt somebody so bad like that.
I mean that’s something that I still I think about even to this day. I’m definitely not now at the point of like killing myself now but it’s just something that I still do think about how that happened and how people could be so cruel in this world.
Question: So, the seven books, did you write them all this year, or how long of span was that?
Answer: Actually, it’s very interesting because normally you know writing books takes a lot of time but those seven books was written last year in 2018.
I guess I had so much to talk about. Again, me suppressing all my emotions all these years, that’s what allowed me to write 7 books because I was using my emotions I was using the emotions in society. A lot of my work too - what I sometimes do - I would sometimes write in the voice of another person and relating or try to see through their emotions and let them speak their own emotions out on the paper.
Question: Are they all autobiographical, or poetry or ficton? What are they?
Answer: Well the first book I wrote was a autobiography.
The second book was a poetry book, that was “Life and Dreams in Poetic Words.” Now, the “Life and Dreams in Poetic Words” those were poems that I wrote back in college, my college days. That was from my sophomore to senior year was “Life and Dreams in Poetic Words”.
The book “My Life as a Poet:” those poems were poems that I wrote last year. All those poems, it might have been like a hundred and seventeen poems in “My Life as a Poet”, those were written last year.
Now the book “There is Nothing That I Wouldn’t Do for You” that’s actually song writing, because I’m a song writer as well, I like to write songs. I think it’s 30 songs in that book.
The “Beyond Your Wildest Imagination” and “Moments in Time” those were poetry books as well. Now “Moments in Time” a lot of those poems were actually dealing with the bullying and the suicide at that time so “Moments in Time from the Unforgettable Past” that talks a lot about the bullying, it talks a lot about the suicide and the bridge scene as well.
The “Death of a Poet”, as I mentioned earlier, that one was one that I wrote around about October, I never really thought about it but with “Death of a Poet” I think what transpired was when in life when you’re dealing with love and rejection. I think I was falling for somebody but then they don’t fall for you, it’s like that rejection episode so that’s what created “Death of a Poet” because I was thinking about rejection, I was thinking about the anger, the pain, the love. Those things merged together. It’s something that could be good, it’s something that can be bad, it’s something that makes you think in society, makes you think about yourself and about wanting to be accepted, and not being accepted.
Question: You mentioned a little bit about painting, you haven’t painted in a while, but is there anything there?
Answer: Yes, I painted last year with Eric McRay. That was very interesting cause I had never painted in that style before so that was very unique for me to learn another artist’s style and how to apply it towards my own style. This year, 2019, I have decided I’m definitely going back into painting this year but I want to work more in emotions. So, I want to be able to use those emotions, you know everything I talked about with the bullying and the homosexuality, and begin to paint more just putting paint out there and just creating various emotions within myself, I think that’s what’s going to be vivid. Something that’s really striking where the audience can look at it and get this kinda imagery from it or gets this kinda sense of emotion from it or this sense of feeling from it by looking at your work. They may see something in themselves when they look at it or it may strike something from them from the past or something that they can learn from so that’s what I want to be able to do more this year. Using various emotions and creating very magnificent artwork for people to see.
Question: You went to NC State have you always been in North Carolina or did you move here from somewhere else?
Answer: I stay in Middlesex North Carolina. At first, I was actually accepted to East Carolina University, I was supposed to go to East Carolina to major in Fine Arts but I was also accepted to North Carolina State University where I had got into Art & Design at that time. It was kinda a toss and turn I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I ended up going to NC State University cause I thought Art & Design was like fine art like ECU but it turned out it was more of the design perspective and I struggled with design, it was not my type of thing. I think I’m more of the fine artist just drawing and painting portraits and landscapes that’s what I love to do the most
Question: Now think about the voices in your head, think about what you hear inside when you’re doing things, what do they say to you, - words, phrases, or questions - can you put those emotions into words?
Answer: What do you mean exactly:
Question: So when you’re on that bridge and you’re thinking about all the bullying and you’re about to decide if you’re about to commit suicide, what specifically in your head was the conversation? Was there the angel and the devil so to speak, or let’s do it/not do it?
Answer: I think it was more me hearing the insults, you know being called a faggot or punk, being called fat, I was called fat so many times in life, it was being called a nerd because I was stereotyped as a nerd too. I think with the school books and me being smart I was called nerd a lot. So those words was more negativity that was inside my mind. The greatest thing when I was hearing all those words being played back at me. I was actually seeing me being ran into a wall, or seeing my clothes cut or seeing when I was on the bus in middle school and being hit in the face when I hadn’t done anything. I was just seeing all these random things in my mind, and that’s what almost caused me to jump off the bridge at that time.
Question: You mentioned you stepped back, what were you thinking at that moment? When you saw the light and decided you weren’t going to go through it, what were those words?
Answer: At that time, I did forget to mention too, in high school round about that time, actually before high school, I would say in early middle school I had met my friend Dante and me and Dante were friends from middle school to high school and he became like a brother to me. He was actually someone that I could talk to about what was going on in life and someone I could talk to the bullying. Actually, he was the very first person I had told I was gay but he knew I was gay. Which was something that I never really thought I was that obvious. But he accepted me for who I was and he just told me that I had to focus on my life and keep moving forward and not listen to the bullies or anybody that’s talking negative towards me. So, it was at that time when I was at the bridge scene, I was thinking about everything that was playing back I was also at that time too (that made me step back), I was thinking about him, you know, his words of inspiration.
I was thinking about my mom too because my mom has always been a good role model for me. she’s been there for me every step of the way. She’s done so much for me. So, me thinking about her too. Thinking about that, that’s what made me step back because I didn’t want to leave my mom back here either, you know being by herself like that. It would have been something very detrimental for her to find out that I had jumped off the bridge like that.
Thinking about that and thinking about my friend, my brother, Dante that’s what kinda helped me cause he always used to tell me you hafta keep going you can’t let anything bring you down. The world is always going to have obstacles that’s going to come your way but you have to try to be strong and don’t fall for it. Just keep pushing yourself to keep doing what you’re doing. Because you’re really - this is his words - you’re really smart Travis. You can do this you just have to believe in yourself. You can’t listen to anybody; you can’t want to be accepted because you’re not always going to be accepted from everybody. As much as you want to be accepted you won’t be accepted. You just have to be you, yourself and just keep going.
Question: When you are beginning to write these books, what are the thoughts and feelings before you start, what are the thoughts as you’re working on it, and what are thoughts after you’ve completed it and published it? Because I know there are probably 3 different transitions of thoughts.
Answer: Now a lot of these books talk about my life and it relates to the world as well. But I imagine the thoughts of this, is me trying to relate the bullying to every poem in my book but It’s different the way I relate it, I just try to use the bullying because it is something that I didn’t really deal with or should have dealt with more but now I’m trying to understand it more so when I’m writing my books I try to think about those emotions, the hurt and the sadness, the pain. I was feeling at the time of not being accepted from the world at that time so I was using those thoughts to put inside my books.
I guess the thoughts going when I’m writing, when you write you go into this other world, or this other dimension where you’re just like there and you’re able to think in your own way in putting those words into the book.
As far as after writing the book, there’s so many steps. When you’re on your computer and you have to type it out You have to format it you have to format it this way to get accepted, cause I was using Create Space at that time for my work. Now I’m using Kindle direct. But it’s a whole publishing process you have to go through for it to be accepted. So that part, it’s not bad now because I’ve actually got the hang of it but when I first did it, it was very tough but now that I understand it, it’s pretty cool. It’s interesting.
Question: Were you nervous because you were about to lay bare your soul to the whole world? Were you worried about how they would receive it?
Answer: Yes I was. I would actually say with “The Makings of Life and Dreams”, being that it was the first autobiography book that was very interesting cause I had never told anybody, let alone the family a lot of this stuff, what had happened so I was very nervous a lot because I guess when I first published the “The Making of Life and Dreams” when my family had read it, I think a lot of them it shocked a lot of people I mean it shocked my mom because she didn’t know a lot of those things that had happened with me. I guess why I was thinking, the way I was thinking and suppressing those emotions - the pain, the hurt, the sadness – suppressing all that in all those years when I shoulda just went to her. She should have been the first person that I went to really, cause she’s my mom. But I didn’t go to her. I just kept it in all those years to myself.
So, it was very hard “The Makings of Life and Dreams” and the “Life and Dreams in Poetic Words” because those two are merged together. The “Life and Dreams in Poetic Words”, it’s the same as “The Makings of Life and Dreams” only difference is it’s written in poetry whereas “The Makings of Life and Dreams” is a just a chronicle It’s an autobiography, a chronicle of me actually going in detail of everything that happened, but poetry is me using “Life and Dreams in Poetic Words”, I’m using poetic words. I’m using diction or detail to readers to imagine what I’m going through in poetry.
When I wrote “My Life as a Poet” I was at a point then I think, where I was beginning to understand more about life. I was understanding more about the bullying and the homosexuality. So I was able with “My Life as a Poet’, I was able to actually put different things in there about in life and how it was good and how it was bad and how it can help humanity.
I would actually say out of all my book I would definitely say “My Life as a Poet” and “Death of a Poet” and “The Makings of Life and Dreams” those three stand out because those I mean there’s a lot of pages in those three books but it’s a lot of me talking about various things in life. Life in general. My emotions, talking about family, talking about the good times.
Question: Is there anything you want to add? Any closing thoughts?
Answer: I would say that I am in the process of working on another book called “Dream Chaser” I actually was in the process of writing that book last year in April so as of right now I have 200 poems in that book. Yeah so “Dream Chaser” it’s a continuation of the other books. It’s a continuation from “Death of a Poet” so “Dream Chaser” is chasing dreams but it also goes more in depth.
I talked about rejection in “Death of a Poet” this one goes more in depth with rejection. It’s a trailblazing poetry breed. The rejection part of it, the anger part, the love part of it. Even the parts where you talk about escaping and going different places in life. Or maybe being in the mountains and being able to see around the world and seeing the landscape. Thinking about the negativity but thinking about the positivity and how you have escaped. You have escaped all the pain. I think in one poem, titled “Dream Chaser” (in the “Dream Chaser” book) I talk about what I have been through in life. Despite me going through the bullying and how bad it may have hurt me or the suicide or me almost taking the blade and killing myself or standing at the bridge. I am thankful now that I can see that if I would have jumped off the bridge and killing myself, I would never being able to see me writing 7 books or being an artist or even this year merging the art with the poetry. So “Dream Chaser” is one of those poems about that in depth but talks about it in poetry format.