In returning to art and creativity something is happening to my body and mind... there is a movement/a shift/a stirring/a release. I have come to realise that I had shut off a part of me that actually made me feel good and it hasn’t been good for my soul. I had stopped feeling free... free to play and free to express myself.
At 18 you become an adult. But what does this really involve? When you start work, in order to make art it you either have to choose to become a professional artist or you do it as a hobby. But as a hobby it has to fit around your life, your work, your relationships and often it starts to gradually take a back seat. Over time there seems to be less time to make art, and then you forget how it feels to lay down marks... it becomes a lost language. I had not realised over the past 20 years that losing my own spirit’s language was causing me to feel like I wasn’t being true to myself, I wasn’t really the person I should be, but now I’m back to it I realise this has been the case.
I’ve had two people tell me in the past couple of days that they can’t draw. They both said it with such conviction. I wondered who told them that, how did they decide that? Had they been made to feel inadequate about it, so rejected the possibility that it had a part to play in their life in some way.
Drawing was something I always did as a child. Drawing was my chosen medium to view the world, to observe things. Discovering perspective and depth of field, shading to create multi dimensional space was part of the process for how I saw life. This was my normal. But there was no room for this within my work... I wasn’t a ‘professional’...so that was that. I was someone who saw myself as a person who could draw but blocking off this part of myself felt strange, but necessary. I suppose people who do not consider themselves to be good at drawing block it off and forget about it altogether perhaps, perhaps their focus is on other creative areas? But what is this doing to us as a society.. this blocking? You have the layers.. the professional, the amateur, the person who does it as a hobby, the people who can but don’t, the people who think they can’t and don’t.. but is it time to shake this all up a bit?
I return again to this idea that we are all artists shaping our own lives. Our life is our canvas... being creative sits deep within us all... it’s part of being human. How many other people have done the same as me and shut this part of themselves down? Certainly the therapy rooms seem to be thriving...we have come to terms with our own societal depression, but have we fully explored the root cause, and does it have something to do with the loss of play. The loss of art. The repressed under layer.
It’s not the finished product but the process of making art that’s important... it’s how it makes you feel when you channel your mind. You become ultimately focused, mindful and calm. Even realising a drawing isn’t very good, tearing it up and making the decision to throw it in the bin can be satisfying on some level. At least it gives choice. But just drawing a line, making a mark, a scribble a doodle can create a moment of release and purity.
As children we are given space to draw regardless of whether we are good or not.. but within the classroom divisions are formed between those who can and those who can’t, but what if the message around this is reframed... what if children are taught that the result is important but not essential. Keep doing it because it’s about the process itself kids. It’s good for your mental health. What if we are given more opportunity to make art at work, to produce ideas in image rather than words, it would be interesting to see what might happen from that.
So I’ve come to realise that my own practice is going to focus on challenging the stigma that sits around making art. Not feeling good enough is going to go out of the window. I’m going to encourage as many people as possible to buy some charcoal and just make some marks to rediscover how this actually feels... art is ultimately democratic but needs to be re-evaluated by society in my opinion. We all have a right to do it... it doesn’t just belong with the professionals. It belongs to us all.