Subject Final Piece 2 – Life on Roaccutane

Looking at artist Bobby Baker has had a profound influence on my pill packet paintings. Just as Baker documented her mental health issues and experiences throughout her time in hospitals and institutes, I wanted to document my experiences, side effects and emotions on Roaccutane, a skin medication with potentially serious mental side effects.

I found throughout the year that documenting my emotions and the physical effects Roaccutane had on me was comforting and therapeutic, helping me to separate my real emotions from what was caused by the medication. It was quite scary to actually realise the depressive effects of Roaccutane and at times it has been a real struggle to carry on my course of pills.

I decided I wanted to physically link my experiences to the object that was causing them, so decided to paint just a few of my emotions onto the Roaccutane pill packets using acrylic paints. I painted six packets, mixing between the physical and mental effects of the medication. I painted the packets before taking the medication and slowly ripped them open when I needed the medication. This has distorted the original images, hiding multiple areas.


Packet 1:


I decided to paint a portrait of one of my lows on Roaccutane both physically and mentally. For me this is my most successful painting as it most accurately captures my emotions from the time. It is a complete contrast to how I normally portray myself.

Packet 2:


This painting was more abstract in which I let my emotions run loose and painted whatever I felt like painting. Whilst painting this I was very irritable so the paint has been applied thick and pulled back in areas.

Packet 3:


I painted this to symbolise my isolation I felt, the background fades from light at the edges to black in the middle. I was hoping to be able to blend my self portrait into the background to create the idea of me disappearing but I don’t think that was particularly successful.

Packet 4:


This painting is the most physical, depicting my increased dose in medication. As well as this I have attempted to illustrate the effect roaccutane has had on my lips, which are now constantly cracked and bleeding.

Packet 5:


Roaccutane works by stopping oil production in your body. In this painting I attempted to show how frustrating my dry skin is and my unconscious scratching due to it.


My final painting was also subjective, painted when I was experiencing feelings of depression. I created this painting by blowing watered down acrylic paint around the pill packet surface with a straw.

I decided to frame the packets because they are so small I think they would have gotten lost in the wall without. Also the frames for me, are conceptually trapping my experiences in the moment and leaving them in the past where they belong.

Overall I think my collection of paintings are personally successful in portraying some of the emotions and side effects I’m currently experiencing. Just like Bobby Baker’s Diary Drawings, they are very personal to my experiences. If I were to further this work I would consider having a lot more paintings in the hope to paint enough to cover an entire wall.

Pill packets before being ripped:


Published by


BA (Hons) Fine Art Student at Cardiff Metropolitan University

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