Art journal session with Zoom

March 16th

Intro

Monika and I did our first art journaling session via Zoom tonight. I am awake on the 17th at 4am. The meanings and ideas that we’re thrown up for me going round and round my head. I got up to write them down.

Monika and I decided that we would to art journal too this evening because there were only a few participants. And it would feel weird just watching the whole time via a screen.

Making process

As I flipped through the magazine looking for images and text about how I felt – living during the time of Corona. I was amazed at how many words caught my attention (in retrospect this doesn’t really surprise me because everything I am doing in my art practice at the moments is working with text). I have been using these particular magazines for my personal work over the last month and I thought I knew them very well. Shifting my focus to how I was feeling opened up the text and images for me again.

I have been particularly loving a double page spread about trees, waiting to use it in a collage. I have also read all the quotes. (normally I wouldn’t encourage people to stop and read in their flip through the pages).

The text I collected was: ‘mother love’, ‘the end of the world’, ‘farewell my friend’, ‘the gift of time’, ‘I feel trapped’, ‘home’, ‘life is for living’, ‘all change’, ‘ I’ve connected with my self on a deeper level.’

This quote by Jeanette Winterson

‘ Earth is ancient now, but all knowledge is stored up in her. She keeps a record of everything. Of time before time, she says little. Of time to come, she says much ,but who listens’.

As I cut out the words that had jumped out to me and looked at the images in more detail. I realised that if I turned the tree spread upside down it looked like lungs. I stuck the whole page onto a patterned piece of paper.

I had a scary conversation with my daughter about her night asthma (that’s where ‘mother love fitted in) and my chest has felt tighter than usual since a bug I caught last month. The tree branches went off the page and looked like they were held or truncated by the rectangle.I felt trapped just looking at them. It feels like being contained in a bad way just writing about it. Echoing my feelings and worries about the respiratory effects of the virus.

I also found an image of a women emerging from a bird cage. The lid was open and she was rising up on a chair. At that moment this was too much like an escape, so I drew a bubble around her. She became shielded and isolated from the tree. These were the only two images that I wanted to use.

I added my text and then started writing into the collage, changing the meanings slightly in black biro.

The end of the world as we know it

The gift of time socially isolated and shielded

Mother love, not being able to hug or cuddle my children or friends.

Farewell, my friend – who will I loose?

Life is for living, who chooses who lives and who dies?

I placed ‘ I feel trapped’ above the cage and cut up ‘ in my’ from other text I had discarded, and finished the statement with ‘ home’.

I had chosen ‘home’ initially because of what was happening between my husband and I. We are separating and he has moved out of our flat. He complained today that his new space is ‘ not home’ ( it’s rented accommodation, next door, so that we can still socially isolate, but have more space for our selves).

I found my self circling the printed text with a black biro which has the effect of making the black on white backgrounds seem to hover or float, accentuating the the words and the woman caged.They hover in bubbles in front of the tree. It is as if I photographed it capturing a moment in time. In our debrief, Monika picked up that ‘time’ was a theme coming up for me.

I worked very fast so, I free wrote around the edges of the tree page. I realise now that this also accentuates the containing of the ‘lungs’

‘ the tree represented life and lungs, breathing, ventilators, my Covid19 collage, who chooses who lives and who dies, it all seems so random, men, BAME,people old, a 107 year old lady was released the other day. Who has underlying conditions?’

We had planned to do another collage session after our group check in. I had used up all my collage collection but still had another page from my tree. With the first collage, I had waited to stick down all my pieces until I had cut out everything. This time I was more intuitive. The text on the second tree page would be upside down if I turned the tree into lungs again. I hadn’t wanted this one to be the correct way up either, but I knew I wanted it to be less constricting. I carefully cut the text and replaced it the right way up.

‘Trees exhale for us so we can inhale them to stay alive… let us love trees with every breath we take.’ Munia Kahn

My new selection of text was: viewpoint, uplifting, inspiring, engaging, ‘the earth is like a child that knows poems’ Rainer Maria Rilke, holding boundaries, new beginnings, facing the reality of change, you can’t numb difficult feelings, with out numbing other emotions, such as joy, happiness and gratitude.

I also made a found poem : feeling lonely, regrettable life, pent up misery, liberated, healthier decisions.

I couldn’t believe it when I was leafing through the pages I found three more images of people sitting talking to each other in bubbles. ( the magazine was therapy today…..) I stuck everything down and as I was tidying up I saw the mad hatter from Alice in Wonderland, and he represented time again for me and the feeling of having fallen down a rabbit hole.

Reflecting on the session Monika I talked about how well the Zoom technology managed to hold the group. I had been worried that we all would feel isolated. In other Zoom sessions over the last month this has been the case. However,the session was inclusive. The themes we explored were echoed in each other’s work and it felt possible to recreate the relational through and in spite of the technology.

This art journalling technique was inspired by Shelley Klammer

Art making as enquiry

Jon has been writing a book for the last four years. It has finally been sent off to the publishers . During the last few weeks he has been reading sections to me, I have read bits and become immersed in the words.

He has written about ‘writing as inquiry’ ( Richardson1997 ) before and I reminded that I could substitute ‘art making’ or just ‘making’ for ‘writing’.

It’s how I think through my process. My art making could be an seen as an inquiry.

Recently I have been sewing into my mandalas this seems to form its self into definite, purposeful shapes, engendering in me a sense of solidity (Wyatt 2019, forthcoming).

Collaborative piece – my sewing into Jon’s writing

And there is a pulsing between the lines ( ibid)

The sewing, drawing, printing, making, seems to be an assemblage of times of day, space, bodies, objects, movement and more (ibid).

Another collaborative piece – we are working on ideas for the cover of his book

The pieces hold an imprint of that time of making, held within the layers of work- almost suspended -captured by the movement of my hands, my body, my inquiry.

References

Richardson Laurel, Fields of play (Constructing an Academic Life) 1997

Jon’s book will be – Wyatt Jonathan,’ Therapy, Stand-up, and the Gesture of Writing: Towards Creative-Relational Inquiry’ 2019

Sometimes it feels like I am in a dyslexic fugue-shining a light – ‘Soul Restoration’

I am ‘doing’ Soul Restoration with the ‘Brave Girls University’ . my best arty friend Debbie Howard is tutoring me electronically and I have signed up for Melody Ross’ video tutorials and bought the work book….

I am shining a light on my truths, today looking at my dyslexia which is driving me mad this week. I have trouble with dates and calendars – I try so hard to compensate but sometimes I have a melt down – 4 double bookings over the next few months has me reduced to a quivering jelly with a lack of self esteem……. I drew a table last night of my cock ups to get a better idea of how much grovelling I have to do , over the next few days.

As compensation I decided to stop beating my self up and look up symptoms of adult dyslexia

I tried very hard to spell the title properly but – drawing letters sends my potty – concentration on tooooo many things at once 😂😂😂

I picked out those that apply to me the most – if you have 10 the website has a course that you can attend to help you ……

https://www.dyslexia.com/about-dyslexia/signs-of-dyslexia/common-characteristics-of-adult-dyslexia/

I try an compensate but when I was a teacher it was a bit tricky with report writing and timetables….

I was reading the list – which I found interesting – it has a disclaimer at the top

‘Most adult dyslexics will exhibit at least 10 of the following traits and behaviors. These characteristics are often inconsistent, and may vary depending upon the day or situation.’

My art journalling called – I sometimes see pages in my head just before I wake up properly in the morning – today a girl was drowning in a sea of dyslexia – a bit dramatic but I liked it.

In the sea it says ” the very things that held you under are going to lift you up’ there is a randomn ‘ ‘achieve’ and ‘pressure’ and watches to represent time – calendars etc

The Soul Restoration course asks you to look at your light and shade in your life

Yesterday I had a mad art day and produced quite a few pages based on the idea around shining a light on the shade/ lies that I tell my self – I am finding the ‘lies’ quite difficult to get my head around

The one below looks at how there is too little natural light in my basement flat and how it is necessary to get out and walk everyday

Below I look at how I achieve when I push my self – this is quite a hard balance to achieve with the beating myself up that goes on with my dyslexia. These pages feel raw, untidy and unfinished but the express how I was feeling and the struggle to be authentic on the page

My first spread for this course looked at 3 different senses of self – a facade that I can present to the world , a shadow self and an authentic self. I made the page after a movement medicine session. Sometimes it feels like I dance to feel the light. – the page is a fold out piece so there are several pics

Hannah Gadsby at the fringe

The fringe is in full flow at Edinburgh. Every year I look at the size of the programme, flip through the pages and put it down. The sheer volume and variety of acts is like an assault. I do not know how people choose what to go to. I rely on family and friends suggestions. Jon always chooses a few things and I tag along. He is writing a book about how comedy and counselling are similar, so we tend to go to see people who have interesting things to say about life.

The visual assault of the city starts the last few weeks of July. The usual grey tenements and railings are decorated with large billboards. It feels like a never ending array of Faces , colours, and text – as I walk up the hill I think I must exude a scary ‘fuck of vibe ‘ because the young people have stopped offering me flyers.

Last night Jon and I went to see Hannah Gadsby – before we went I knew she was gay, Australian and thinking of giving up comedy.

I was not prepared for the physical onslaught. She is a large presence on stage. Her face grimaces, eyes pop, nudge , nudge , wink wink. Innuendo , it’s a joke.

She is very funny, but there is an unease, it’s a joke , it’s a joke

There is something about her physicality that reminds me of Trump. The throw aways don’t ring true. Am I perceiving this in hindsight?

There is back story about 10 yrs in comedy, being a lesbian, in Tasmania, where it was illegal to be gay until 1997. She is self depreciating about being large and not fitting in.

She has a degree in art history which added an interesting layer for me. She lets her anger slip out around privileged dead white males, particularly Picasso and his misogyny…..

The first 30 minutes is hilarious, but increasingly uncomfortable as she explores why she is thinking of giving up comedy.

I don’t want to give too much of her act away. I am up at 4 am writing this. I woke at 3am with a tightness in my stomach and my head ringing.

I had a need to get up and explore how I was feeling. I felt like I had been run over by a large lorry. Hannah talks about playing a room, making tension and controlling the atmosphere. The raw emotion and anger that she holds is palpable. On the bus back to outlet flat, I could hardly stay awake. I was physically exhausted. We had to catch the bus because I couldn’t face another assault by the crowds and visuals all the way home.

Her anger – it’s a joke, it’s a joke

I started doing one of my circles of bodies. I made Hannah into an ancient Venus figure and wrote in tight neat handwriting around the shapes on the page. I needed to let stuff out so I reread the Guardian article about the show and picked out words ‘lesbian’ ‘comedy’ Tasmania’ ‘1997’ ‘anger’ stood out. Writing Hannah’s reported words made it possible to step away from how I was thinking and feeling.

It’s not finished yet, I want the figures to be more 3D

But you get the idea.

I wanted the feeling of a tight female figure screaming. She has no arms to represent the tension and rage on the stage. She was magnificent in her fury and it was a powerful set – I have been thinking about white privilege and the need to find ways of of being newly accountable – may be blogging and incorporating stuff into my art is a way forward.

http://hannahgadsby.com.au

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/stage/2017/aug/16/standups-quit-comedy-edinburgh-hannah-gadbsy

Paper dolls and miscarriage

I had 5 pregnancies and 2 live births 30 years ago. At the time I didn't really mourn my loss and I wonder if my anxiety and chronic migraines stem from the upheaval of hormones I experienced over 4 years.

Mostly I feel like have worked through my grief . However, I was knocked for six this week after reading an article in 'Therapy Today'

( Who Knew ? j.Gosney June 2017 vol 28 issue5) The article describes Gosney's work with grieving pregnancy loss. (I could have done with meeting her in the late 1980's). She talks about why there is 'such a silencing shame around miscarriage' I suspect it is because we don't want to upset or worry other newly pregnant parents.

I remember 'retreating from a world that had become a hostile environment peopled by babies, pregnant women and proud fathers' I moved my living room to the back of the house away from the twice a day school run of chatting happy Mums and buggies

I am not sure I experienced post traumatic stress but I definitely 'became vulnerable to anxieties….. and questioned my bodies ability to carry full term…. I realised I couldn't trust my body anymore.'

With my dyslexia and continuing migraines I still feel this phrase resonates strongly.

Most of my art doesn't look into this as a source of inspiration. however after the embodied reactions I keep getting to @gracemorgan's art on Instagram – I felt inspired to look at how I could explore this, using my paper doll technique.

My first go at womb mandala

Wombs with 8 week embryos( which is when the doctors thought things when things went wrong) I quite like the difference in the colours of the womb – photocopy , against the rawness of the real painted colour of the embryos

These feel a bit sanitised, I am shying away from blood. Which is ridiculous really. Though I am being a bit hypocritical because I dislike sanitary towel adverts on the TV

And another pretty one

http://www.bacp.co.uk/docs/pdf/16027_all%20editorial%20tt_jun17.pdf

Migraine mandalas

I get hemiplegic migraines ( which I am sure I must have mentioned in an earlier post) they are exacerbated by flashing lights and hormones. Most of the time they are under control with a very small dose of antidepressants. However, menopause and my irritable bowel has been fun!!! Sometimes, the migraines are brought on by flashing lights – sometimes food (if I am being sensitive). This latest episode was self inflicted really – reading a book and drawing mandalas in 4 hrs of flickering light on a car journey -was asking for trouble. 

I decided to have a go at working through my frustration and anger at my self , after several  reared their ugly heads , consecutive evenings. 

I am staying at my Dad’s house in the south of France with only my travel kit. I painted  loose ovals on lots of sheets of heavy duty cartridge paper with  very diluted acrylic. Then added swirls of neocolours, oil pastels and more paint- it’s warm and arrid here so everything dries very quickly. 


I wanted to continue working with my paper dolls. I tried a design where a female shape is curled up in painholding her head but it ended up looking like white splodges in some sort of fiery constellation. 

A head screaming (below) just looked weird( lol) and didn’t convey what I wanted to express- I like the colours , textures and patterns , so they became backgrounds. 


I needed some figures that worked in circles so I searched on line and came up with an ancient artifact from Mexico 


Practicing blind contour faces in pain ( really getting into the details 😂😂😂😂) 


The above design uses an African figurine as motif but even though it made a lovely mandala in the centre with its arms and legs I didn’t like the proportions of the head and neck. 


Nice uncomfortable screaming baby type figures are amusing me now my head is better and I like the nightmarish qualities – there is an other worldly feeling and out of body experience that I seem to have captured too , which sums up my aura stage quite nicely. Though if I think about it -I don’t experience all that colour 

More Movement Medicine dancers this time in Orange 

Over the past 6 months I have made so many different mandalas that sometimes I don’t know what to do with them. I had been wanting to work with my movement medicine dancing ladies some more. So yesterday I made loads of cut out dolls. 

I was very amused about 30 minutes in,  that I needed to make the images stand out more – the colours were too samey or the patterned mandalas meant that the dancers got lost on the similar coloured backgrounds. 

An orange frenzy ensued which was very therapeutic and got my creative juices going. I had thought I was a bit stuck because I hadn’t danced for a week. 


I made some smaller templates so that I can cut circles of joined dancers – the idea of them all being connected appeals. Catherine ( http://catherinewright.co.uk/workshops/) mentioned us all being joined by a gold thread last session – but I can’t quite get my head around how that would fit visually within this work  – there is so much colour and pattern going on- they feel more like a  ‘5 Rhythms’  Chaos session (https://www.5rhythms.com/). I think I must have had Matisse’a ‘The dance’ going on somewhere in my head too 


https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/digital-collection/01.+Paintings/28411/?lng=


I love complimentary colours and the circles of dancers fit in with my mandalas – it’s all a bit bonkers colourwise – I enjoyed scrawling in blue oil pastel over the finished collages , but I think some of the more simple ones are very effective.


I produced some single dancers for some A5 pieces I had in my stash – I think maybe I should draw these figures individually.