A friend gave me the book for Christmas at the end of what had been one of the most emotionally draining events of my life, a marriage breakup. This friend had seen some of my art from years ago and had been gently encouraging me to use it as a form of therapy to help me reconnect with my artist self. I was so tired though, just surviving and undertaking the monumental task of untangling a 21 year relationship had taken its toll and I’d never felt further away from my inner artist.
I kept the book close though, and each time I caught sight of it I felt something inside me begin to stir. It felt like an old friend had got in touch after a long absence, too many years without contact leaving a sense of unfamiliarity but that unmistakable knowing them.
By late January I couldn’t ignore the calling anymore – and the rest is history! From working through that book I started to regain my confidence as an artist, although there was a huge amount of resistance and fear to overcome every step of the way. Slowly though, over the course of 2 years, I became more and more comfortable being in my studio and now it’s more a part of my life than it ever has been.
I decided that 2018 is to be the year I fully embrace my artist self and enrolled in a programme that is not only transforming the way I work, but has introduced me to and allowed me to become part of a fantastic community of fellow artists, from all corners of the globe, who support and inspire each other in their practise.
Through that community I’ve gained the confidence to really challenge my ideas about my art, to be bolder than I ever dared be and to take risks that I’d never have even contemplated! I’ve grown so much in the last 5 months, and my work reflects my growing sense of knowing myself as an artist.
Knowing that it’s okay to trust what develops has been a key learning point for me. My earlier success with selling had come from those pieces that I created from what I felt deep inside, a personal interpretation of emotions, situations or places.
My work has never been too representational or realistic and having found my old art college portfolio recently I was reminded that my first love has always been for the textured, distressed and tactile. Pieces you want to run your fingers over, add the sensory input of touch to the visual appearance. Those portfolio pieces were bold, coarse, big and unashamedly me! I wasn’t trying to be mainstream or create something that would appeal to everyone. I was taking something that inspired me (back then I was fascinated by old decrepit buildings with peeling paint and chunks of missing plaster exposing the raw materials underneath) and making my own interpretation of it. As I looked at this work I remembered how much fun I’d had creating those pieces, so clearly as if it was just a matter of weeks ago (not the 20+ years that have passed!). And that very visceral reminder spurred me to stop trying to paint what I think people will like but to make art that I enjoy making and let that show through in the work.
As I work on my current series I find that each brush stroke, each colour I mix, each mark I make, is reinforcing this new-found confidence and as I continue to push my work and take risks I’m starting to lose the fear of ‘messing it up’ that would have held me back previously. It doesn’t always turn out right but then that’s what makes creating art so much fun – the unpredictability of the materials when used in an unfamiliar way. Those pieces I considered ruined from previous rounds of painting are now being dusted off and transformed into new, fresh, bold pieces.
And if it goes ‘wrong’ and I don’t like what I’ve created, I know that taking a few risks will bring it back to something workable that can be reworked and reborn. After all, if it’s already ‘ruined’ then throwing more paint on it or scraping areas back isn’t going to ruin it any more – and that’s often when the magic happens!
If you like what I do, please support me!
© Natalie Day 2018