Our society has not been a safe space for me to celebrate my body, I have felt uncomfortable in my own skin for years. Over the last year, I have gained even more weight and I can feel my skin stretching and jiggling in ways that I have never felt before, I have new stretch marks every day and I have tortured myself through these changes. However, there has always been one space that has felt completely safe, and I have generally kept people out of this space, which means that no one sees me at my most comfortable. When I began videoing my "making of" videos I knew that I was opening the door into this safe space and this was very scary.
Something you might notice about the videos is that I don't dress up for them, I am always wearing my 'laziest' clothes. But this is me at my most authentic. Something that the pause of lockdowns has brought to me is the space to reflect on the body I inhabit. I have begun the process of developing a wardrobe that reflects this new relationship with my body, to begin celebrating what I have and be proud of myself. My new goal is to be healthy, whatever form that takes but it will of course be a "one-step-at-a-time" journey.
It is a strange thing to know what your body was built for, it might sound like an exaggeration but I was built to paint. In painting, I find peace and the process feeds my soul, when I channel my creativity it is always towards the action of painting.
Over the years I have explored my painting practice to a place where I have settled into my style of working. Of course, I know that this will develop further over time and I am excited to one day look back at where it began. The contemporary painters that I am often likened to are the "hard-edge abstraction" artists, whose work I absolutely love but somehow have never fully emulated. My preference for layered colour and working at speed with acrylics means that my contributions can often look like childish attempts at hard-edge painting. Recently I have begun to understand that the texture and brushstrokes are a part of the identity of my work, the continued presence of my body and its movements is captured in the paintings. The acknowledgment that my body has a skill that allows me to create pieces that bring me and others joy.
This joy in painting also stretches to the palettes. Not only have I struggled with body confidence but I have intense anxiety around social situations. This fear and constant stress has taken its toll on me but through it all, I have been able to find meditative peace and comfort in the action of painting. It is my moment to shut out the world and commit my body towards a practice that feels so natural. Because all my joy and hope, as well as the majority of my confidence, is pushed into the paintings the palettes that I work from are bold, vibrant and so colourful. However, this has led me to have the tendency of hiding behind my paintings. As a visual communicator, I hid and hoped that my paintings could speak for me, but that isn't always the case. And so I have begun this blog as a way to help translate, but a part of that I feel is also me opening up to the community that has grown around the work that I do.
My social media presence has been to express an outward appearance of success and confidence because I am confident in my work and my ability to produce it. But that is not the authentic truth, it is a struggle, just as it is for so many. I have seen other creators opening up about the "bigger accounts" that they follow and the inadequacies that we can feel because of this competitive element, so I want to express my truth so that anyone that might look up to me knows that I am a human being, I am flawed and a bit broken. Sometimes even fragile, and while I have confidence in the work I produce I am a long way from having confidence in myself. I am determined to write features on other artists so that I can begin to create a space for creative discovery but I would like this to be an open hand to anyone that can empathise with these thoughts and feelings.
Thank you for joining me on this journey!
Mental Health Awareness Week
10th May - 16th May 2021
If you are struggling please reach out, there is always someone out there who can help you. From people you love to complete strangers there is always a resource and I encourage you to reach out.
I was recently diagnosed with sever depression and anxiety, including social anxiety. It's been a long journey to get to this place but I am now on the path of healing, including started regular therapy. All it takes is one step towards help to begin the journey and I truly hope you can find your path.