I began my latest project during my second stay in a psychiatric hospital last month. I was hospitalised in order to start new treatment and because my depression had reached an all time low. My nana had unfortunately passed away at the beginning of the year, and whilst I knew it would affect me badly, I didn't realise how much it would impact on my mental health. I've suffered from severe OCD and depression, amongst other problems, for over 12 years now and of course, at times of stress, these can get much worse than usual.
As an artist I have always used my work as a way to vent and to express things that are hard to put into words, and this is exactly what I have been doing recently, but in a very different way than I usually work. As you may have noticed, the majority of my work on this site is created using photography and photo manipulation; whilst I also create illustrations and do murals, the majority of my fine art work is very similar in style, employing techniques such as photography to create images that explore what mental illness feels like to me. I would say that the majority of the work I make tries, whilst also remaining slightly ambiguous, to portray mental illness in a way that can be easily interpreted and understood. I guess I'd call this 'story telling through art', which to me means that I am trying to create work that can inform the viewer on a basic level.
Although I still want to make work like this, I have always had an interest in abstract art too. I've often practiced creating more abstract works, but I usually end up doing this at the side of a notebook as a doodle instead of as a real piece of work! As I doodled, I always noticed it had a calming effect on me, and although the images I was drawing were usually just a mesh of patterns, shapes and colours, I always felt they were an extension of what I was feeling at the time of doodling. This gave me the idea to try and create one abstract image a day that would express how I felt whilst in hospital. I decided to go with a small square, and to use one of my favourite materials - watercolours. Before starting the project, I identified a set of rules that I would use to create my daily squares. Firstly, I wanted each square to be totally abstract, no deliberate hint of anything that resembled what I was worried about or thinking, however it has been really interesting to see what people can identify when looking at the images and even what I can identify when looking back at them, knowing how I was feeling at the time. My first time creating a square, I began by selecting a colour that I felt drawn to - this is an another element of these pieces that I created a rule for, this rule being that I did not want the squares to be easily read colour wise, for example, I didn't want yellow to necessarily mean happy, or blue to mean sad. Of course, if that's what colour I felt drawn to that day then that would be acceptable, but I didn't want the pieces to be obvious in any way. So each day I would sit and create something that required no planning. I would choose colours that I felt jumped out at me on that day, and would let the brush go wherever it felt right. So this is what the project is based around, and for some time now I have been producing these small abstract squares.
From now on, I am hoping to show some of these squares in more detail, offering my insight into what I think the abstract shapes and colours could be perceived as, as well as explaining how I felt when making the pieces.
Finally, I just wanted to let people know what else you can expect to see on my blog. Of course I am hoping to update at least once a week with images of my new project, but I'd also like to write about artists who have inspired me, and once a month I am hoping to review and discuss a 'book of the month' that I have been reading in relation to my practice. I am currently reading Kandinsky's 'concerning the spiritual in art' as my book for the month of May, as so will update with a book post as soon as I've finished reading!