My Final project in Semester 2
I am a Fine Art with Art History student living in Aberystwyth. I have a passion for capturing beauty in its many forms, whether that be through Drawing, Painting, or most recently printmaking. My subject usually encompasses natural forms, animals and whatever I conceive as beautiful and worthy of capturing.
In this Project I am going to be exploring and experiencing the solemn journey of grief and loss. More specifically the death of my cat. I will ultimately be visualising my emotional waves onto small canvases, with colour and technique being a reflection of my emotions at the time. Moreover i hope this project will relate to most in terms of grieving a loved one, whether that be animal or human. Acceptance is something i desire to achieve during the journey of this project.
I made the last minute decision to adopt this interdisciplinary module after not feeling any inspiration nor overall interest in my initial chosen module. After researching more into this project, I was almost immediately sure I wanted to embrace this module, as I love and appreciate nothing more than the animals that surround us and inhabit our planet. This particular stimulus, ‘Animals’ is a subject that is extremely close to my heart at this very point in time, as unfortunately my cat died last week. I had only had him for around 5 years, he was young, full of excitement and life, to say I was ultimately heartbroken is still an understatement. Knowing that something I loved so much was suffering in pain is a thought I just cannot comprehend, knowing that I can’t do anything to bring him back.
He was my best friend. I know for some people, having an animal as a best friend is a ridiculous thought, but Angus was different. As a kitten he only ate his food if he saw me and only me making it. He would only lie on my bed, play in my room and let me stroke and play with him, we developed a relationship that I know I will never experience with another animal again. I missed the first week of Mirandas class due to the switch in modules, therefore I took this week to grieve and mourn, but to also embrace the happiness Angus brought to my life, somewhat celebrating his life instead of thinking back.
I thought I’d include some images of my cat here so that anyone and everyone is able to adore and appreciate his life along with me;
My mother and I had always said that he resembles a Scottish wildcat. His fur was abnormally soft for the average cat, as well as the length of his whiskers, features found on the Scottish wildcats. I then decided to conduct some research into Scottish wildcats and a few of my other favourite wildcats. I had always considered myself one of those ‘dog people’, a very controversial topic amongst avid pet owners, that was until Angus had entered my life. He was a reward for my studies for GCSE, he helped me through my toughest times, to put it simply, he was himself my therapy, a way of controlling my stress and anxiety in ways that I will never understand or be able to myself. He was the best thing in my life, the thing I looked forward to seeing when I woke up in the morning, the last living being I saw before I went to sleep. Hopefully, researching and understanding these different types of cats I feel personally awaken myself to see the world through their preying eyes.
These cats are incredible. Once found across the whole of Britain, these cats are now subjected to being found in the Scottish Highlands. I’m infactuated with their long, elegant whiskers and tortoise shell fur, resembling Angus almost exactly. These cats can grow to up to a metre long, with their territories covering at least 25km. They’re incredibly intelligent creatures, as they don’t like hunting and moving in open ground, they’ll use streams, hedges and also roads to move around. It is known for these cats to only live for around 2-3 years, their death usually a result of disease, unwanted traffic and most unfortunate, accidental persecution.
I was saddened by the fact that these cats are like many, becoming an endangered species, with only around 300 left in the wild, compared to the 100,000+ domestic cats that we encounter in our everyday life. These cats were once hunted for their elusive fur, as deforestation, us Humans needs for trees also killed off a large population of these peaceful creatures. I cannot explain the misfortune and frustration I feel knowing that Humans are responsible for uncountable species extinctions, as well as extinction within species is happening a thousand times more quickly because of humans.
Another wildcat that is close to extinct is the Iberian Lynx, more commonly known than the Scottish Wildcat. The Lynx is the most endangered cat in the world, with fewer than 100 cats in the wild in 2002. Due to the emphasis on keeping this species live, there are now around 400 cats today, though with numbers still declining.
Once again the reason for endangerment are manmade, from the selfishness and thoughtless humans as their habitat is threatened by illegal farms, wells, as well as gas extraction that contribute to the pollution of their water. They are usually found, but are extremely rare, in the most rural and remote parts os Spain.
The lynx is well known for its superb hunting skills. their stealthy and agile nature allows them to hunt easily, usually rabbits, making up 90% of their diet. To this day, illegal poaching and careless driving is still the largest threat to these harmonious cats.
–More reflection- Expressing and visualising my feelings and emotions–
All I wanted to do the week was to shut myself out from the outside world, from absolutely everything. I wanted to turn off my phone, my laptop, to lie in bed and cry. I knew I couldn’t do this, I knew I had to remove myself from that situation. One thing I have been doing recently is visualising my emotions onto paper or any material, painting, scribbling, drawing, adding colour, no colour, depending entirely on my mood at the time, anything that allows me to visualise my feelings in front of me. Therefore I decided to sit down, listen to some of my favourite music and ultimately visualise my emotions.
Here is the outcome;
Picture of outcome
Here are just a few of my favourite songs I listened to whilst creating the piece above;
These songs give me goosebumps every time time I hear them, each for different reasons. They elevate my feelings to a different level. They are all individually uplifting yet equally alleviating and consoling. I especially related to the lyrics in shake it out by Florence and The Machine as she expresses multiple times to “shake it out”.
“like to keep my issues strong
It’s always darkest before the dawn” – I can relate to these lyrics on another personal level. The past week has been filled with complete darkness, with no hope of light. I have always been told that “Time is a healer” and exercising my emotions through music and expressive mark making has helped me realise that its completely okay to take time to grieve and mourn, to concentrate on the present, harnessing and visualising the many waves of feelings and emotions that I experience in that very moment. I hope to explore multiple different and artistic ways to apprehend these waves.
1st Personal Tutorial;
I feel a massive sense of clarity after meeting with Miranda for my first tutorial. We had a relaxed discussion about where I want this project to take me as well as how I would be hoping to succeed. Before going into this tutorial, I personally felt like I hadn’t decided on any particular idea, but I now understand completely how to develop my thoughts and ideas further. I explained how my cat had died a few weeks ago now, and how I wanted this project to include that, I just hadn’t decided how. Miranda and I then agreed that during these next few weeks I should revolve my project around my cat and expressing and choosing a way of visualising the waves of my feelings and emotions of grief and I now have to accept what has happened.
We then discussed some possible ways in which I could possibly exert my waves of emotions into something physical. Some ideas included clay moulding, manipulating and utilising my hair and face, and also painting, drawing and scribbling onto a surface, ultimately encompassing the idea of closing my eyes and allowing my hands to create a unique outcome based on the particular wave of feeling at the time.
“Finding the simplest channel between mind and hand”
This idea of finding a way of creating an outcome in the simplest yet most effective way possible, being able to capture and visual my emotional wave at that very time, being able to work with my grief and harness it into something artistic . We decided on the idea that I had quickly explored in week 1. The idea of creating one painting everyday, on a small, square canvas, using Acrylic paint and expressive mark making and colours. A few other aspects mentioned were considering where I would make these paintings. I explained to miranda how I made the previous painting based on my emotions in my small studio located outside my house, surrounded by nature and natural forms, we agreed this would be the best location to continue creating my paintings. As well as being aware of the type of music I listen to when competing these outcomes. I’ve decided I will harness my emotional waves onto one canvas per day, starting when my supplies arrive.
Finally, after finishing the tutorial, I knew that all I want to do during this project is to allow my creativity to soar, to not be controlling, to not always make quick, precise decisions. I am a person who always needs to be in control of my mind and body, my recent interest in meditation allows me to control these emotional waves and harness them into something physical. I would like to explore the idea of creating these paintings and then removing myself from those emotions and placing myself into a clear mindset, ready for a session of meditation.
Here are the Notes I took from the Tutorial;
This lecture has opened my eyes immensely to the parallels our our life as humans and the life of an animal. The only thing I could think about when watching this film is how clearly these animals were speaking to me personally, even through a film. The scene where the large animal was stood on the road, with cars upon cars piling up behind it. I cannot explain how much I empathised with the animal. It looked completely and utterly scared, uncomfortable and overly petrified. Personally, I just wanted to weep in sorrow. I felt its emotions absolutely. We as humans are invading their habitat, their home. I always imagine what it would be like if it was the other way around, if we as humans had scary vehicles and large, obnoxious figures invading our homes and land, we would undoubtedly be terrified. This documentary was the most thought provoking piece of television I have ever watched. It made me feel anger, frustration and actually disappointment, in ways in which I never thought I could comprehend.
It provoked the idea of our higher thoughts, our higher awareness. We think of animals and humans as being different entirely, where in reality they are no less deserving go life than us. What actually separates us from animals? Not a lot, if anything.
“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”―James Herriot
I keep circling back to this quote by James Herriot. There are numerous evil, heartless humans in this world, it is impossible for us to say this about any animal. They love and care in ways which humans will never understand.
Notes from the Lecture;
A Stream of Consciousness
This week I have tried to harness my feelings of grief and loss into physical and artistic outcomes, ultimately creating my visual stream of consciousness. Similar the experiment I undertook in my first week, id like to carry this idea on, harnessing and visualising my emotional waves into an artistic outcome, on my chosen surface and medium. I favour Acrylic paint and canvas surface as these are materials that are known to me, I feel comfort in using, familiar and safe, elements I need to make use of within my emotional state as of now. Experimenting with new materials is not a comfortable idea, familiarity is comfort. I’ve also decided I would give a title, a name, a sense of “being” to my conscious outcomes.
Like I mentioned, I would also listen to a playlist of music whilst completing these canvases, I still feel immense grief and sadness. The playlist reflects my feelings completely. The lyrics of each song I listen to has meaning, understanding, I can relate in ways which I could never before. Ideas and themes of loss, regret, grief, all emotions that are running through my mind and body, my soul. I feel like the music allows my emotional wave to emigrate from my head to the canvas, more so than without musical influence, leaving me with just my subconscious thoughts.
-wake me up when September ends – Green Day
This song has a much deeper, sentimental meaning to me. The lyrics speak to me like no other, they relate to me on every level, every emotion;
–“The innocent can never last”–
Angus was the epitome of innocence. He wasn’t like other cats, he didn’t spend his days hunting down birds, mice, other small beings. He spent his days cuddled up on the sofa, wrapped in a warm, safe ball, distant from harms way. This world didn’t deserve him, he was too innocent for our harmful, careless, thoughtless world, Heaven, the spirits above called upon him, they needed another angel.
-“As My memory rests”-
All I have now are memories. Memories of all our magical and special times together. It’s important to allow myself to grieve, to mourn the loss of a loved one, a living being that I considered my best friend, my soulmate. I was lucky enough to find this in an animal. Many people struggle to find this in another person, but I found this within Angus, a bond that will remain unbroken for eternity.
Tears in Heaven- Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton wrote this song about his four year old boy, Conor, who fell to his death from a 53rd-floor window of a New York City apartment, belonging to a family friend. His lyrics resinate with me, I can ultimately sympathise with his loss and grief, perhaps not on the same level, but the emotions are prominent.
“I must be strong
And carry on”
These lyrics relate to my situation entirely. I keep telling myself I have to be strong, I have to keep my mind focused. On the other hand, I believe its okay to sit and cry, its okay to not want to leave my bed, my space. Why should I have to force myself to be okay? what good will that do me and my mental health in the long run? I know I will be okay, but time is a healer, and right now, what I need now more than anything is time.
There’s peace, I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more
Tears in heaven
I know there’s peace within me, I just need to find it. Finding it comes through accepting what has happened, his death. I have to accept it, accepting it is part of healing, healing takes time. I am putting no time stamp, no pressure on myself to heal, to accept and move forward. I will never understand why his death happened, what I did to deserve this pain? this loss? Why am I being punished?
I’ve added a few songs to my current playlist–
I’ve listed a few of my favourite songs at the moment, based on their lyrics, rhythm and overall feeling it gives me. I listen to these when I’m sad. when I’m happy, when I’m painting, when I’m sleeping. These songs allow me to feel emotion, feeling, anything, something I’ve been struggling to do at the moment. These songs allowed me to paint my emotional waves sub consciously onto my canvas this week, helping to to stay focused on visualising my pain.
Today we watched the most amazing documentary/film my eyes have ever watched. Im not one for enjoying and actually understanding the scientific forms and information behind many concepts, but the knowledge that this video has provided me with is immense, the whole thing was in my opinion, a masterpiece, a collection of visual pleasure, animals really are amazing. The idea of creating my own species is exciting, I cannot wait to conduct some research into some of my favourite endangered species, perhaps combining two of them to make one dominant species. The idea of climate change has always been a very significant passion and enthusiasm of mine, I try my best everyday to live a more sustainable wand waste free life. Creating a species based on the notion of climate change is a topic that inspires me greatly.
Notes from today’s class:
Opening the parcel!
Im super excited to design a concept for my species. I always enjoy research into topics that I am genuinely inspired and excited by. Thinking…How can I put my animal in the little tube?
Developing the idea of capturing the stream of my emotional waves..
After speaking with Miranda in my first tutorial, we decide that I should focus on and exploring predominantly my stream of emotions and feelings, continuing these paintings onto familiar surfaces with familiar materials. Right now I need comfort from familiarity. Ive decided to spend the next week or so capturing and visualising these waves. It helps tremendously that I have been home, surrounded by family and comforting elements of everyday life. Providing myself with a routine during the day helps keep me productive and motivated in this depressing time. I don’t know how I would cope if I wasn’t surrounded by comfort and consolation, feeling desolate and lonely is one thing, but actually being lonely is an entirely different thing in itself. I’m very lucky and extremely grateful in this sense.
Starting Today, I will be expressing my emotional waves onto a canvas a day. I will try to harness these emotions in very productive ways before sitting down to visualise them. Previously, I had been meditating before hand, focusing entirely on harnessing and concentrating this energy, ready to immediately convey onto the canvas. Ive also decided I will occasionally also take long walks before hand, embracing and appreciating my local surroundings of my beautiful village. Being outside, surrounded by wildlife and nature is undoubtedly my favourite place to be, I’m very much a countryside girl. The element of having been in the picturesque landscape will perhaps alter adjust and reflect on my emotions.
Canvas No. 1– Grief
This canvas encompasses grief entirely. Before this canvas I meditated, listening and focusing on the first 20 minutes of this Animal, natural sound. I thought by meditating to this video would help myself to centralise entirely only emotional wave, to then immediately apply these sentiments onto the canvas. The colours are evidently dark, dismal, there is no appearance of vibrancy at all. This is how I feel inside, just empty, filled with darkness, like a black hole. I keep asking myself why? Did I do something to deserve this pain? This grief?
I’ll never understand why he had to be taken away from me so early. I now understand that taking my time to grieve, to feel sorrow, to feel entirely empty is normal when loosing someone close. I’m the type of person who can never sot still, I can’t lounge around all day doing nothing, but right now, this is all I want to do. Its difficult for me to feel so unmotivated, to not want to do anything, nothing at all. This process is teaching me a lot, to understand that grief is okay, normal even, and taking time to wallow and mourn in my room, well, that’s okay.
Here is the video that I will mediate to for 20 minutes before completing a canvas, that is. if I feel like it. I may want to just lie down, take a walk, a run, to sit and cry. I’ll refer to these animal sounds whenever I feel like it.
(i listened from 0.00-20.00)
Canvas no.2- Desolate
Comparing this canvas to the piece I completed yesterday, its immediately much more colourful and vibrant. The colours are very earthy toned, greens and blues, also reds and pinks. I completed this canvas after taking walk along the beach whilst watching the sunset, the pink of the sky inspiring the prominent inclusion of the red acrylic paint. The other colours are also inspired fro the colours surrounded by me on this walk. The green/blue colours are inspired by he colours from the sea, blue from the sky, as well as white from various elements of nature.
Whilst on this walk, although I was in an atmosphere that would usually lift my spirits and make me feel some element of contentment, I still felt empty. I’m lost. I don’t know how this is ever going to get better. Hopefully by continuing with these canvases, they’ll eventually help me to control and alleviate my emotional waves, making sure I’m not allowing these emotions to build up, eventually exploding, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Already, I feel like these canvases are already helping me to express and visualise my grief and process of healing.
Canvas no.3– Frustration
Today was a bad day. I don’t have much to speak about, if anything at all. I feel wholly and entirely lost, empty and in despair.
The canvas is covered with expressive brush strokes, the use if the black paint reflects the darkness that I feel. I actually whacked the brush against the canvas with frustration with this canvas. I tried meditating for another 20 minutes of the animal sounds video featured previously. I couldn’t relax, nor could i focus at all.
I am frustrated ultimately with why this has happened, after the horrific year that had just passed, why now? Why begin this year with heartache? With loss? I’ll never understand.
(I listened from 20.00-40.00)
Canvas no.4- Glimmer of sunshine
Daffodils. These beautiful flowers inspire me. Today was a day that I started with a walk instead of meditation, I needed this. I needed to be around nature, surrounded by greenery, elements of the earth that I love, that make me feel safe.
The budding daffodils left an impression once, therefore I stated with a vivid yellow on the canvas, covered with a deep grey, yet not entirely black, symbolising ultimately the overwhelming despair that remains inside of me. Yellow and black, two colours that clash immensely. These clashing colours represent the clashing of emotional waves inside of me.
Canvas no.5- Tears
This canvas is slightly different to compare with the other few canvases i have completed so far. I was again, completely an utterly grief stricken. I spent this entire day crying, curled up in a ball, going through endless images and videos of Angus.
For this canvas, i used my actual tears to help the paint run down the canvas creating this drip effect. Angus’s favourite place was my bed, he was always asleep on his favourite blanket, the colour of the blanket was reddish pink, inspiring this choice of coloured paint. I thought i would try something slightly different to symbolise my despair, instead of the black paint.
(I listened from 40.00-60.00)
Inevitably, i have turned back to the dark and dismal colours. I couldn’t bring myself to use any vibrant, any element of potential happiness into this canvas, that would not accurately represent my emotional wave today.
Today i tried going for a walk, and for the first time ever, i felt no compassion, no excitement, no feeling at all towards being outside, whereas i’m usually ecstatic to spend time surrounded by wildlife and nature, i had no real consciousness about me today. I did not want to leave my room, my bed. For this canvas, i decided to take it a step further than the other previous;
Again, frustrated and ultimately fed up with feeling so empty, i covered my hands in the black paint and drew onto the canvas using my hands as the paint brush;
Putting paint to canvas didn’t quite satisfy my creativity for today, therefore i toke it a step further again. I hadn’t noticed at first, but after noticing in the mirror that i had evidently wiped my hand across my face with my paint covered hand, covering my face with black paint. I liked this idea. I therefore wiped this paint off and started again. I began by creating what i would describe as tears, rolling down my cheeks;
Canvas 7- Seascape views
I spent today sat on the beach, just staring into the horizon, watching the crashing waves and listening to the squawking of the seagulls and the fear from walkers passing by as they protect their food at all costs.
The beach was covered with happy and content dogs as they zoom across the sand in front of me. Dogs and any other animal brings happiness and joy to me that i will never understand. Once again, this reminded me of Angus. I feel like wherever i go i’m surrounded with familiar things, things that will initially bring mr joy, but soon descends into deeper thoughts, deeper meaning, eventually resulting in my despair and grief.
The prominence of blue is evidently inspired from the sea i was surrounded by throughout the day, with the pink inspired by the setting sun i watched in front of me at the end of the day. Today was better than some previous, but i would never say it felt remotely relaxed or normal.
For my new species i wanted to explore fundamental elements of different personalities and characteristics that remove me completely from my comfort zone. I’m a libra, therefore i tend to be more quiet, we’re the most balanced sign, thus i feel like i am always in touch with my emotional side, always trying to maintain equilibrium in my life. Being in touch and understanding my emotional waves is what i have been ultimately focusing on the last few weeks. For this species i wanted to create an animal that almost has no qualities i posses or even feel like i have, i wanted this species to represent everything i am not. I want to remove my head and my heart from my deeper consciousness for a while, removing myself from my current situation of grief, I hope this species is going to help my achieve this. Finding balance in companionship is important to me when designing this species, thus i have chosen to combine a polar bear and a salmon shark, both inhabitants of the arctic circle. The polar bear has made the decision to mate with the salmon shark as their habitat is rapidly changing, with the melting of the ice caps creating an unstable and scary future for the polar bears. Due to the climate change, the bears have cleverly sought out the perfect mate to survive in the water, the salmon shark. In appearance, the species represents the polar bear, large, brave and dominant, but underneath its fur is its gills and scales, covering every inch of the body, allowing it to comfortably search, breathe and prey the waters of the arctic as the fur retracts into the skin allowing the gills to be fully functional and visible, their paws are also large and webbed, creating a perfect paddle for the species to use to accentuate their swim, where they’re able to travel up to 100mph. The most notable characteristic that the polar bears have developed from breeding with the salmon sharks are their endothermic abilities, meaning they are able to change and adapt their body temperature depending on their climate. Most recently, they have been spotted with larger black spots covering their fur, believed to be another element of evolution, these black spots harness the suns heat, providing the species with more energy and is a large addition to their endothermic abilities. The bears have developed the sharks large jagged teeth, making them prefect for hunting larger desired animals, as the polar bears diet consists of mostly seals and and occasional whale carcasses, moreover the bears can also live off the sharks diet of smaller fish and squid. When breeding, the females allocate the prefect deep snow drift that provides protection from the arctic elements, typically breeding in the winter months, usually to twins but due to the eccentric evolution, the females have been known to give birth throughout the other seasons of the year.Although independent in nature, the cubs can stay with their mother for up to 3 years, in this time they are taught everting they need to know about survival in the arctic circle. The species is ultimately overly dominant, they are fearless and posses the strength and bravery that the polar bears have, they are also agile, graceful and beautiful when placed in water, these characteristics are seen in the salmon sharks, thus this species is a combination of all the most useful and dominant qualities found in both animals, combined to ultimately create one incredible species, living up to 25-30 years in great health.Their predators ultimately remain as being humans and larger sharks, due to their heightened senses, they’re usually able to escape from danger successfully. Their only disadvantage would be their diving abilities, as they are known to only skim the surface, they cant dive nay deeper than 50 metres. Ultimately this species reflects everything i feel i am not.
I’m so excited and intrigued to see where everyone takes their animals. This is a journey i feel like is really close and personal with my current situation. This animal represents everything i wish i was, brave, strong.. Maybe one day I’ll be able to relate to perhaps even one quality that my new species possesses.
I extremely enjoyed this workshop! I really appreciate everyone’s creativeness and how everyone’s was so unique and almost reflects aspects of themselves. Mine and Anna’s were actually quite similar in many ways, yet still unique and different. I loved her idea about her species harnessing their energy from the Northern lights, i thought that was beautiful! Mathew’s “bulbo” was also so incredibly amazing, i love how different it was to everyone else’s. I also loved Mailyng’s species and their need for warmth, i can certainly relate to that!
Notes on everyones animal and ideas for Group project;
“A Brief History Of Artists Grappling With Loss And Death”
I came across this culture and arts article by Priscilla Frank, exploring the many ways in which influential artists have dealt with loss and grief in their artwork. One artist that stuck with my deeper consciousness last in first year was Ana Mendieta, her work is quite astonishing and utterly memorable. Along with several other infamous artists, Frank speaks on the different ways that they explore grief and loss, as there are “many, if not infinite shapes that loss can take, and the impressions they make upon us are just as varied”. This immediately reminded me and reflects exactly on the daily canvases i have been completing based on my emotional waves.
“Silhouette” by Ana Mendieta
“Mendieta, born in Havana, Cuba in 1948, moved to the U.S. at 12 years old to escape Castro’s regime. She then began a brief yet ardent artistic career — she died at just 36 years old — grappling with issues of love, death and rebirth using her body and mother nature as a vessel. In “Silhouette,” she lay shrouded in an ancient Zapotec grave, letting natural forms eat up her diminutive form.”
It is evident Mendieta has experienced a significant amount of trauma in her short lived life. My heart aches for her, as it seems all she was familiar and accustomed to was pain, loss, grief. It almost makes me feel guilty for feeling that grief and pain i currently am experiencing from the loss of my cat. Yet, it is important to understand that everyones experience of grief is different, this i feel like is my first real loss, heartache, i don’t fully understand this feeling of emptiness, its like a piece of me is now missing, like a black hole in my heart.
I love the contradiction of the living forms “eating” her body. I think this is beautiful. I am one to constantly associate nature with beauty and peace. Having nature actually destroy the body is an idea that would never have crossed my mind, ultimately making me admire and appreciate the thought process and outcome of the artwork ever more.
-here are a few other examples of her work that have left such an impression on myself-
Particularly the top right. Here, Mendieta lies submerged in water, her head and body totally under, as if she was drowning. Yet the image is so peaceful, she has complete control over her body and has knowledge over exactly what she is doing. I love the concept, the idea of drowning yet she has complete control over her mind and body to stop this, although the water is so shallow it would be near impossible to drown, it doesn’t take away from the fascination and shock of the artwork. She reminds me of a fish, stuck in shallow water, unable to find salvation, thus now dead, floating on the surface of the water.
–Drowning– With my emotions
Here i decided to experiment with Mendieta’s concept of drowning, losing control of your body, but not fully. My biggest fear is not being able to breathe, drowning or suffocating makes me feel so uncomfortable. I found it difficult to breathe even just dipping my head in and out of the pouring water, this was. an uncomfortable situation, having to wait for the photograph to be taken whilst holding my breathe, but i’m really happy with the outcomes.
Kessler is an artist who creates meaningful pieces of art, from portraits to landscapes, she explores themes of disconnection, deep emotions, grief and empowerment. Charlotte, who has a background as an Art Psychotherapist, believes that art has the capacity to bring healing. When dealing with the loss of her Father, Charlotte regularly used a sketchbook to express her feelings.
“Art can help a person experiencing grief and loss in many ways. I don’t consider that grief is something to ‘get over’ as grief is an expression of love, instead, it needs to be given space; loving and nurturing care. It is not a comfortable experience in life however listening and tending to one’s grief actually keeps us more connected to ourselves and to love.”
Although her work is quite vivid and colourful, whereas, my work if i were to complete any art work during this time period, would be ultimately dismal and gloomy, unless i have had a reason or experience to feel or use colour in my canvases, whether that be through spending time with loved ones or even just a simple walk outside, with animals and nature surrounding me, much like what we actually see within Kessler’s featured artworks.
I find Kessler’s work hugely motivating and inspiring. Using art as a therapeutic form is a very possible direction for my final project. I need to understand, to learn that taking time off to grieve is entirely normal. Death is a topic, something that is always avoided when discussing how we feel. I feel pressure almost to just ‘get over it’. Talking to Miranda, i understand now that Grief is not Linear. These words have been stuck, circulating in my head since our first tutorial, they have helped me tremendously in terms of the beginning of my healing process.
-ART AS THERAPY-
I recently purchased a book called ‘Art as therapy’ by Alain de Botton, in collaboration with philosophical art historian John Armstrong. This is a book that explores the many incredible ways in which art is used to solve our problems, and has done over the past decades, exploring famous artworks, encountering and visualising these artworks in a different light to what we would previously have analysed them to be.
I will be continuing to read and analyse this book, applying the information and knowledge it provides me with, into my work for the rest of the semester!!
“We incline towards feelings of isolation and persecution because we have an unrealistic sense of how much difficulty is normal. We panic too easily, as we misjudge the meaning of our troubles. We are lonely – not that we have no one to talk to, but because those around us can’t appreciate our travails with sufficient depth, honesty and patience”
-Alain de Botton, Art as Therapy
Lead me…Decisions decisions!!
I have previously been listening to nature and animal sounds, a long playlist on youtube to help me ‘get in the zone’-
After conducting the research further more into art and its therapeutic properties, as well as many of Charlotte Kessler’s work based on grief and loss and her many coping mechanism forms, Ive made the decision to stop using the sounds in the background…
Instead i’d like to be left with my raw thought and emotions, without the distraction or influence of the background noise. I feel as if meditating before or going for a walk are the two options id like to per-sue as i complete my canvases per day. Meditating allows me to me completely in touch with my body and mind, and their relationship at that very moment. I hope to immediately transfer these raw, unfiltered emotional waves immediately onto the canvases after completing. I’m hoping this leaves me with a more vulnerable and realistic outcome, as i feel the animal and nature sounds can be quite influential and distracting when completing the paintings.
-WEEK 4 CANVASES-
Feb 15th and 16th
8th and 9th Canvas-
8th Canvas- Today was okay. I saw my little nephew today as he in a support bubble with us. He brings me a lot of happiness, it made me forget about the loss for a few hours. Ive always grown up as the oldest, being the oldest fo 4, i have always had babies around me, they bring me a sense of comfort. I love the way he makes me feel inside, i have so much love for him, he is so young and innocent, they always are at this age.
9th Canvas- Today wasn’t as good. The sadness was overwhelming. I spent the day alone in my student accommodation. I don’t have a close relationship with the people currently living with me, my other housemate has decide to stay at home, therefore i’m certainly feeling lonely at the moment. Alone with my thoughts and feelings right now is not the most comforting in my current situation.
Feb 17th and 18th
10th and 11th Canvas-
10th Canvas- Today was dull, dismal even. I spent the day inside listening to the rain crash against my windows, as if the rain was forcing it’s way into my room. I felt sad, entirely empty. Today was not a good day.
11th Canvas- Today was good. I spent most fo my day outside, walking with my dog. I’ve come home for a few days to get my head straight and to hopefully reset and recharge ready for the coming week. Being home makes me so much happier, being in the company of the ones i love, they always know how to make light out of a dark situation.
Feb 19th and 20th
12th and 13th Canvas-
12th Canvas- Still home, in my studio. This room is outside in my garden, surrounded by nature and where we buried Angus. I feel closer to him when i’m home, connected almost. Its almost like his presence watched over me when i’m completing my artwork in my studio, he use to sit in with me, especially when the sun would shine through the windows and create a sun trap for him to bathe in. I like being in there.
13th Canvas- Sunshine equals happiness. Today was sunny, not particularly warm, but the presence of sun always lightens my mood. I spent most of the day in my studio again, currently a makeshift printing studio also. I really do love being in my own company, with the comfort than Angus is right next to me.
Today was a mixture of emotional waves. I woke up feeling good, i went for a run and the endorphins were feeling amazing. The day took a turn for the worst when a failed printing attempt took place. I was stressed, frustrated and angry that i couldn’t get the outcome i was hoping for. Though, after time, i managed to achieve the desired outcome. The rest of the day was much better.
For the last canvas of this week i came across this youtube video, i then watched it a few times as i found it very comforting in a good way, her voice was incredibly soothing. I allowed myself to play the video in the background whilst i was creating this last canvas –
Although the video and noise brought me comfort and almost happiness, i still just couldn’t forget about the past events. The canvas is still dominated by blacks and greys. I do although feature some lighter, more vivid and content colours such as the pinks and yellows. These colours in particular bring me joy, i associate them with happiness. These colours represent the small feeling of comfort that i received from the video. It was so incredibly informative and very helpful advice on how to deal with my current situation.
Tutorial- Feb 19th
Todays tutorial was incredibly motivational. Miranda and i came to a project idea very quickly due to me knowing exactly what i hope to achieve. My canvases. Time-lapsing me painting them, creating a long video where i document the painting of each canvas for the rest of the weeks coming. I’m so excited. to see how this ides develops and becomes the ‘final project’, capturing and visualising emotions i’m yet to feel, such as exception, boredom, tiredness, to name a few. I cant wait to see how the next few weeks pan out. How exciting!!:))
Prep for the next workshop– proposing our group ideas!!
Letter of Apology– Saying we are sorry. An apology between man and animal:
This idea is one that resonates close with me and my current situation. I am ultimately disgusted with the humans careless and selfish nature, resulting in mass extinction among hundreds upon thousands of species and creatures. This idea resonates massively with my frustration and anger towards humans killing not only our planet, but our animals too. When will we realise as the human race that we are our only hope, the only thing that can stop this is us! For this proposal, i would like everyone to think and write their own apology to a chosen extinct animal, after conducting their own research into their chosen animal and their reasoning why; presented finally on our online notebook. I hope that if this idea is chosen, the members of this group will learn or strengthen their connection between themselves and animal, elevating some of the masses of guilt that we feel.
-Workshop 3- Pitching our proposals to each-other;-
I loved everyones ideas. Moreover i appreciated how everyones ideas were so incredibly different and extremely well through through proposals. We had such a range of possible projects, such as a manifesto, a zine, a recording and performance, our made up echo system, and finally Ania’s winning idea, the “bopledict cell”!! (and my letter of apology.) I wish we could do all of these ideas, or combine them in some way…Im so incredibly excited to see how the concept of the “cell” will develop during the next week as well as when it comes to carrying out the project in workshop 5! I cant wait to see how our chosen idea will come to play out!
Notes that i gathered from each individuals proposal;
Letter of apology;
Due to my circumstances and the research i will be conducting into the red pandas and their endangerment, i thought this week i would write a letter of apology to my cat Angus, i feel like i need this, like i need to write this down, so that he knows exactly how i feel:
After being introduced to Joel Sartore’s incredible images, i chose the red panda for my background this week after i came across this beautiful video as i was conducing some research into endangered and threatened species;
Some things i thought were important to note from the video;
- This beautiful animals are classified as an endangered species due to many reasons such as habitat destruction, wild poaching as well as illegal pet trade.
- It is estimated that their population is less than 10,000 and is still currently declining now.
- They can live in extreme weather conditions at at some significant height also, some even as high as Mount Everest!
- They have a large appetite and can feed al throughout the day and has a specialised diet, primarily feeding on bamboo leaves as well as other plants and fruits in the wild, sometimes even on bird eggs.
- They are actually nocturnal animals.
- you would never usually find 2 or more males together as they are typically quite territorial, using their scent to actually mark their territory.
- They are considered to be rather solitary animals.
- They will use a high pitched whistling noise to attract the opposite sex , with the female producing anywhere from 1 cub to 4.
- They have semi-retractable claws that allow them to live at such high elevations, as well as having specialised writs that enable them to turn their thumbs around so they’re able to grip the tree properly.
- The colour of their fur allows them to camouflage perfectly in the trees.
- They are classified as their own species and are not that closely related to the normal panda we know.
- When threatened, their defence mechanism is to stand on their back legs and reach their front legs up to the air! Heres a video of exactly what they look like when spooked;
Another beautiful video of a Red Panda…
Joel Sartore’s Endangered Animal photo ark–
Joel Sartore’s photo ark for endangered species, specially the red panda has caught my attention massively, the images are so incredibly beautiful. I’ve taken a particular liking to the red panda photographs that Sartore has taken, they are such incredible animals.
The Red Panda photographs:
-WEEK 5 CANVASES-
Feb 22nd and 23rd
15th and 16th canvas-
15th canvas– Darkness consumed me today. Overwhelmed with work and may other stressful events happening at the moment. I took the time to go for a walk today, this helped a lot, but it only lasts whilst i am physically outside, the minute in inside, alone with my thoughts is when i am most unhappy.
16th canvas– Today i climbed Cader Idris. I actually packed my rucksack with my paints and my canvas and completed this canvas whilst up in the mountains. I can’t explain the joy that being outside with nature gives me. My father, sister and brother joined me on this hike, making the experience even more enjoyable.
Inspiration for Canvas 16- The climb to the top
Here are some pictures i took to capture the memories of this Hike. I’m really cherishing every moment i get to spend with my loved ones at this moment in time. I love and am grateful for each and every person that surrounds at the moment, me so incredibly much;
Pictures of the hike;
Feb 24th and 25th
17th canvas- Today i was actually happy. Again. I spent the day babysitting my little cousin. He brings me so much happiness. I was sad when he left. I took. a walk with my dog and came back to paint this canvas, although there is still some darkness, there is also some colour too.
18th canvas- Today was another good day. I spent the day occupying. my mind with work as well as physical activity. Ive been in touch with. my body recently, listening to what my body wants and needs. I’ve recently rekindled my love with running, i forgot how much happiness running gives me.
Feb 26th and 27th
19th canvas- I painted this canvas after returning from my daily walk, whilst watching the very red sunset, it was mesmerisingly beautiful. This brought my so my warmth inside, for a moment. I felt content, but reality soon hit, after the sun had set.
20th canvas- Another miserable, gloomy day. Today was spent in bed. I spent most of the day curled up in bed, surrounded with my many teddies. I may be too old for them, but they do bring me so much comfort, i feel so safe with them, considering i’ve had them since i was young. Tomorrow i wish will be better.
Today was a rollercoaster of emotional waves. I started the day with some yoga and meditation, this always helps my productivity throughout the day, stretching my body feels so good, especially my achy muscles from running. I attempted some work, but failed miserably when my sister brought me in some polaroid from when Angus was a kitten. I know it shouldn’t have upset me, she didn’t mean to, but i couldn’t help myself. After a few hours i went fro. my walk, this always makes me feel better. The rest of the day was good, my little brother always knows how to cheer. me up.
Reflecting and Experimenting!!
This week i’m taking time to reflect on where exactly. i would like my project to go, as well as experimenting with different concepts. Ultimately i would like to consolidate my final project, in terms of developing and finalising the overall idea. I stumbled across the most incredible artist and it immediately reminded me of the work i did a few weeks ago where i felt as if the canvas wasn’t accurately representing my emotions that day, so i used my face and hands as the “canvas” instead. I’m certainly deliberating with the idea of adjusting my project from documenting the process of painting the canvases to something more, something memorable, something fascinating to the audience and viewer.
Meade is an artist who specialises in using the body as the canvas. I came across her work whilst deliberating with the idea of how i’d like to develop my project from just creating canvases to something more. Meade’s work has provided me with great inspiration-
Reflecting on the impact Meades work has had;
Meades work is fascinating. The use of colour within her work is so admirable. I feel happy when i look and analyse her pieces, they bring me great joy. Although I admire her eye for colour, i’m more interested in the entire concept of painting the body.
The idea of using the body as my blank space is an idea i really admire. This idea excites me more than what Miranda and i had originally had decided on, that was the documentation of the daily canvases. I feel such sense of excitement when i think about experimenting with the body as a blank canvas. This idea has such exciting potential, it would be shame not to experiment with the concept at all, as this week is all about experimenting and almost removing myself from my comfort zone, thats exactly what i’m going to do. Yay!!
My face as the canvas-
This process was so incredible. The countless emotions felt whilst experimenting with my face as a canvas were so overwhelming. I chose the face in particular as i am evidently able to portray emotional value to the photographs. During the process of actually covering my face i felt powerful, i had a huge sense of liberation, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, i felt freedom for a brief second, until i gazed into the mirror beside me. I sat quietly for a minute and then the tears began to stream down my face…
I took this opportunity to immediately capture the rawness of this experiment as well as to examine and explore the concept of capturing different emotions portrayed on my face. For example, this photograph was taken just before i began to feel upset again, it’s quite platonic and my expression is neutral, I don’t feel as if i look sad or happy, almost in between .
-Experimenting with different expressions-
This process was really exciting. I was so incredibly intrigued to see how i would manage to capture emotions, but emotions that were raw and real, i wanted them to be impressive to say the least! I am very happy with the outcome of this first experiment, i feel confident in my ability to capture what i desire, that is my emotional state. I feel as if the pain behind my eyes are entirely visible and obvious, i hope for the viewer to be able to physically see and feel my immense pain transcending from the photographs.
Where am i now? Well…I certainly have a vision in my mind in terms of what exactly. I hope my project will be and include! I would like to present a series of photographs and a pre recorded video of the process of actually transitioning my face into a canvas, for me my project is not wholly focused on the final outcome, that will be the photographs, but actually the documentation and the journey to how exactly. i get to where i in-vision my project will go. Throughout this semester i have highlighted continuously my focus on my journey, in particularly my journey towards healing, thus the element of documentation and emphasis on the preparation towards the final outcomes. I’m so excited to see how this project will develop and flourish!!
Preparation for workshop 4-
I chose the word “collage” from the ending of last weeks session, Here is what i will be presenting;
Lastly…I took a break from the canvas a day activity this week as Miranda and i agreed to let myself focus on the development of my work, in an effort to take my mind off of Angus and the daily task of completing a canvas. I feel like this small break will allow me to return with a fresh mindset and newly found motivation.
Sadly something came up this week and i missed this weeks class, meaning i didn’t get to present my presentation on the word “collage” to the rest of the class, how disappointing…In an effort to make myself feel better i ended up representing it to my family…
I had the support of my little cousin as always:
Continuation into my research about using art as a form of therapy:
Jean-Michel Basquiat went from an obscure graffiti artist to an acclaimed artist. After being discovered by Andy Warhol, his career really took off, and he is still admired by many celebrities to this day.
Basquiat used art as an escape from his chaotic personal life. Although he was an intelligent child, he had a mentally ill mother and had been in and out of institutions for years. As a homeless 15 year old, he began expressing himself with graffiti around New York, before concentrating on different artistic styles such as human anatomy. He attempted drug rehabilitation and sobriety, along with exploring different themes in his artwork to cope with his difficult past. His work often looked at racial oppression and slavery. Sadly, he died aged 27, but his work still reaches high prices at auction.
His work is undoubtedly eye catching and has left quite a significant impact on me and the development of my work, and the though process actually behind creating my art and developing this project, focusing on using my art practice as my “down time”, my therapy.
Here are some of my favourite pieces by him;
Here are some really informative and fascinating videos i found on Basquiat’s art and his journey to where he is now-
He lets his thoughts and feeling dictate his art work entirely, this concept is so intriguing to me as i have always been interested in allowing my body to create the artwork instead of my head, almost as if i were creating art with my eyes closed, allowing their body to make the decisions. This is a concept that i really enjoy the idea of.
Using the body as the canvas
Body paint artist Merry is considered a master of blending her models into their surroundings. After studying with Robert Wilson and Marina Abramovic at the Watermill centre, she took those lessons and applied them to her body art installations. Now, whether camouflaging models around the world or creating living sculptures, she is known as one of the top body painting artists in the field.
Her work is the reason for the significant development in my project over this last week. Her work is ultimately incredible, inspiring and fascinating. Not only does she use the whole body as her canvas, but her technique is so pristine that she is able to effortlessly blend the painted figured into the desired background.
My favourite examples of her practice:
This video shows a particular process that has ultimately influenced the outcome of my project. It explores the way in which discord and destruction is displayed on the body, almost exactly what i desire to do, that is to ultimately display the darkness and discord. I feel inside to be portrayed on the outside, in fact on my body, using it as a canvas.
I also stumbled across this interesting video. I would love to create a performance piece like this, but i wouldn’t know where to begin, as well, as much as it is breath taking, i believe a performance like this wouldn’t accurately reflect how exactly i am feeling and have felt the past few months.
Exploring Expressions- A series of photographs that explore my most inner emotional waves.
I thought id include an update of my dedicated playlist that i’ve slowly been adding to every week. There is one song in particular that is currently leaving a significant impact and influence in the development of my art practice, that is;
Tom Odell- “Another Love“
“I brought you daffodils in a pretty string
But they won’t flower like they did last spring“
“I wanna cry and I wanna love
But all my tears have been used up”
“And I wanna kiss you, make you feel alright
I’m just so tired to share my nights”
“I wanna sing a song, that’d be just ours
But I sang ’em all to another heart”
His music is beautiful, the way the words flow, each and every word to the tune of the piano, this song gives me goosebumps ever time i listen to it, which has been a lot recently..
Some other songs i have recently added to my playlist, listening to these songs allows my mind to leave my body for a while, something i have recently been doing whilst i complete my daily canvases;
WEEK 7 Canvases
Taking a week off from my daily canvases were certainly the correct thing to do. i feel refreshed and motivated to continue with them, I have thoroughly enjoyed completing them this week, the process has been more enjoyable and rewarding than it has felt previously, i finally feel like i am making some progress with myself and my emotions.
March 8th and 9th
22nd Canvas– Today was the best day i’ve had in a while. I woke up early and went for my morning run followed my a really productive day of work. To put it simply, i felt quite calm and dare i say “normal”. I always feel like pink is a colour that reflects happiness and almost calmness too, pink is the colour i would use to describe myself today.
23rd Canvas– Today was one of those days where i felt a variety of emotional waves. I was overwhelmed quite largely with works and a few other personal situations that is going on right now. After i sit myself down for a while, i can usually regain control of my mind, hence he small splashes of colour amongst the darkness. I completed this canvas after a walk so i did feel significantly better than i had done the rest of the day
March 10th and 11th
24th Canvas– Today was another good day. I painted this canvas whilst sat on the beach watching the sunset over the sea. The beach makes me feel so extremely happy, i love hearing the sounds of the waves splashing against the rocks. I feel in my element when i’m at the beach.
25th Canvas– I spent the entire day outside again. Playing football and running around with my brothers always manages to take my mind away from the sadness i feel inside when i’m left alone with my thoughts. The green is definitely the dominating colour of this canvas, representing the elements of nature, and being outside.
March 12th and 13th