'The Art of Play'
Discovering and expanding upon the ability and importance of play within art. Pushing the boundaries of expression whilst battling with an internal anxious constant.
There are confines, whether they are obvious or on a subtle level of consciousness within the world we find ourselves in. I am an artist, in my heart, in my blood, in my mind and in my spirit. Although I have experienced tremors of uncertainty, and my mind has often pulled me a few paces back from the dream, I find myself inevitably falling back into its safe comforting grasp. Growing up with an escapism, loosing myself in a painting or daydreaming in a drawing, the creativity and release is like my own personal Wonderland, and something I have always cherished as well as needed. In the last few months I have felt my mind begin to alter to something a little more freeing. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I am like a butterfly who has finally managed to burst free from its cocoon confines, but it’s similar. There is some sort of strange self-acceptance, something inside me itching from the pit of my stomach that’s saying; “Yes, you can, why not? Just go for it,” for the (probably) eighth time in my life this has been happening again. But it’s different, this time it’s making much more sense and for once I truly see that this is the right path, that I am able to trust myself. If anyone has ever suffered from carrying the demon of anxiety on their backs through life, you will understand me when I say life gets hard, and harder still to find the will and determination to succeed in something you constantly hold self-doubt against. Some days the prospect of hauling myself from the comfort of a duvet embrace on some mornings is more than I can bare, but on other mornings it feels as if I have been electrocuted up the behind with a spark of determination and excitement of what the day may bring. Each day holds a different and unpredictable feeling, the emotions and moods I experience shape the movement of my mind and used to steer me away from my main objective which was to create. Recently however, I have decided to use and abuse my anxiety the way it used to use and abuse me, by manipulating it as a tool to create works, rather than to have it ultimately control me and what I do. Unfortunately I’m not sure I will ever be rid of the vermin that is my anxiety but it is a remarkable change I feel knowing that actually I am able to obtain my own control over something that has felt in charge of my mind and sometimes my body. Being able to understand and ultimately use this element of my being for a creative good has been a huge step forward into my dream of an art career. I have touched upon my art experiences in my other writings, and without boring you to tears about the long history I have with my ultimate lover (art), the constant need to please others and to bow down onto my hands and knees when I was instructed to create a piece of art specifically for another’s needs was exhausting, and very much leading me away from my own personal ability to seek confidence in my own work. When given so many briefs by so many art advisors and teachers it was a constant struggle to please them, before studying for my Fine Art Degree at university it was a world of judgement and falling short of personal expectation. Unfortunately there were constant feelings that I wasn’t good enough to pursue my ambition and that I should really just consider another career. This was vocalise throughout my education and to this day is still hinted at from close family. However as I’m sure many of us have hit challenges and people’s personal opinions rather than non-bias perspectives, there is always that ever burning ember in the pit of our stomachs that keeps us wanting and desiring our true vocation. I will not give up, I may hunch over with self doubt every now and then, but this will only keep me occupied for a moment, then it’s back to the original drawing board of my art and to develop my narrative. Brushing away rules and confines can give birth to something new and exciting, this is the starting point of which I will refer to as my ‘artistic rebirth’ and the beginnings of my true creative reflections. Being able to play within a creative objective for me has been a priority and main focus for my works, feeling and translating my energy (be it negative or positive), has allowed me to really interpret the language of the mediums I use. I have shaken off the restraints of task or brief and I have replaced this regimented focus with the ability to let go, letting go of control and allowing my work to come through from something organic and original, with only natural inspirations and emotional understandings shaping my art. Nature is a vital attraction to my process of creating, I have always found the air of a forest or the kiss of the sea desirable. Being able to drink in nature’s beauty and use it to influence my colour pallet or choice of organic movement with paint strokes, is an element I can curl up in within my process. The emotional side of my inspiration to create works of a reflective self nature is something I hope to develop, by using my anxiety as a point of interest, I hope to one day show others that it’s ok to not be ok. That you can suffer from something sometimes very much out of your control is a difficult factor for many, but I hope that with my writing and creative process, as well as the pieces I produce, that others might not feel as alone as I have felt due to anxiety. There is light at the end of the tunnel, it’s the choices you make that determine which route you take to get there. The above elements are definitely the inspirations for my works, but the creation process is heavily focused on the idea of play. As children the act of play was vital to our character and personal developments and something that I hope was encouraged. However as we grow and shape into older forms of ourselves, play becomes in most cases a distant memory. I believe that sometimes the ability to let go and just create is a very playful process and something I have snatched back from my past to use in my present and future. I sit, ready to work on a piece with no idea what I am going to produce. The inspirations of nature have partially shaped my colour choices, the emotional energy I feel at that time is needed to fuel the art, and the playful side begins when I touch my paint to the canvas or board. Playing with movement and shape, playing with strokes or marks, playing with subtle or strong details are all allowed as I work. I like to begin with a fresh canvas or board, sometimes it is prepped, sometimes if I’m feeling a little naughty or rebellious it isn’t prepped, it’s naked and bland, so I dress it with colour and texture through my process. I use oil paints with my art as oils have a natural fluidity and organic feel which is very reflective in why and what I create. The gold, copper or sometimes silver leaf accents present in my work is an element of light, almost representing the light within myself and that it isn’t always perfect or large in size, it’s very much important to the piece and myself, it’s also important to my narrative that it’s ok, it’s ok to feel down, to feel low, to feel sad, we all have a light within. The art of play is something I am strongly featuring in my work and will continue this for years to come, I believe it is also a somewhat healing ritual of self. To have the freedom of creative expression is a gift, and I will be using this to hopefully help others on their own journeys. No matter the mood of the day, remember the child of us still resides within, and sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised if you allow yourself a moment to play.