Everyone’s creative journey is different and originates from a variety of motivational factors.
My individual experience started with a need for escapism. The realm of imagination and fantasy proved itself far more desirable, than anything the real world had to offer, and so my creative journey began.
A collection of Disney comics was my muse. Endlessly copying the characters from the pages onto A4 sheets that I stored in a ring binder. They were only pencil drawings, but their sanctuary was precious and transported me away to feelings of safety, preservation and a sense of calm; that were invaluable.
High school, while toeing the proverbial line I found that CDT (craft, design and technology), home economics and art classes; could help meet my creative needs. At options; delightfully I discovered that all three departments had actually requested that I take their subject. Only being allowed one creative subject choice though, my heart demanded it be art. Now my creative journey started to gather momentum.
Artistically, I flourished during my GCSEs and really started to embrace my creative gift. Although the work was quite prescribed, being able to experiment and push my limits was a welcome challenge and helped to focus my mind. I believe this is where my fondness of colour started, it just wasn’t the right time to harness it.
Willy Lott’s Cottage was the feature of a montage piece on one of my exhibition artworks; all completed in watercolours and an ode to John Constable. Sadly, it now only exists in my memory.
Advanced level: no school uniform and more freedom (of both movement and expression). Thank goodness!
Project briefs could be interpreted: the allocation of a project to research known artists and produce a piece based around their style or as inspiration for our own creations, hit the mark with me.
British choreographer Yolande Snaith was who I discovered, via a set of images in a book. The black and white shots with dramatic lighting and various poses eluding to pain and torture, and drew me in. Here, I would love to link to these images, but my A’ level was in 1993 and although I have looked; I cannot find any reference to this work now. I’ve never forgotten her name though; it’s forever etched into my psyche.
What stemmed from this, was a set of poses of me, shot in a blacked-out room with my arms looped over the handle of a broom; draped in black cloth and an old net curtain. Just one spotlight used, while my art teacher took the photos.
After I developed the film; I painted three large boards from the photos, over a number of weeks. With charcoal and chalk, paint and persistence; I offered up an expression of self that was so acutely accurate to what was inside. Again, I cannot share this finished work with you, as all were lost. A sole practice drawing that was preparation for the final works is what remains, along with a few photos, that now hang on my art room wall (see feature image above and practice drawing below).
Art supports healing
What I find inextricable, is that I should choose to participate in a, ‘this is me’ photo shoot in 2018. Now, having faced my past and fought through the anger; again, I stood all in black with dramatic lighting. Were I writing my story, this would be the completion of the circular plot. (View memoir in the about section of my website, to find out more.)
No, my A’ level work was never revealed to the world, but it is such an important part of my creative journey and did gain me a good grade. Beneficially, it was pointedly valuable; it eased my suffering by releasing some pain. I am really proud of the art I created and for having the courage to create it. As most artists can probably attest, I remember everything about its production and the emotions experienced. They have been captured forever, but remain safely within the art.
Our lives are tapestries of good and bad experiences. We cheer with joy and pride; throw a celebration and we share and release our happiness. What about our pain? Capturing it, hiding it from view and trapping it inside is toxic. I am testament to that. Open the valve, allow the pain to seep out and disperse.
Art opens that valve for me, and I revisit it regularly now to twist it a little further open.
We all experience pain, but how do you ease your suffering?