Hope – flowerpunked. Art and my mental health.

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Just finished this one.

Hope.

Sometimes I have to walk away from something I’m working on as I despair it will work out to be anything near good enough.  Actually, it’s not sometimes, it’s most of the time!  However, I do persevere.

When I went to bed last night, this one was looking horrible.  I had the background done, the first layers of collaged patterned paper and the kind of hessian looking die-cut added too  I really wasn’t happy with it at all.

However, a good night’s sleep and a bit of inspiration on waking meant I knew where I wanted to go next, especially after I sorted out the jumble of die-cuts I have (note to self-get some way to organise these!).

Once started from the point of inspiration, the picture just grew to it’s finished state (well, I think it’s finished, that may change when I look at it again later on).

Hope.  A really good word here.  There’s always hope that no matter how bad I think something looks, , pushing past that often results in something good.  Indeed, sometimes the work can just be cut into pieces for use in another piece, which is how the iridescent, textured circles came to appear in this one.

Hope.  Making art always gives me hope that I can overcome the trials I face when my anxiety/depression/complex post-traumatic stress disorder kitcks itself up a few or several notches.  Art always gives me a place where I can lose myself in something that is meditative, mindful, self-soothing, and shows me that I can succeed even when the self-critic is telling me I’m useless, I can never get anything right, nothing is good enough, I’m a failure, and so on.

This past week or so, challenging myself to work with mixed media – something I’ve tried in the past and not really felt I was successful at – has been good to help me with the aftermath of a couple of rather strong anxiety attacks.  I’ve not had any for around a year now.

I was surprised by them and at their intensity and how they have impacted on how I live my life at the moment.  I find it difficult to go out into the world, want to hide away from people, and when I do go out it’s often in the dark hours so I’m not seen.

It also surprised me that this is how I used to live every single day for a very long time, most probably most of my life, until a few months ago.

Even though these two episodes have happened, I know I’ll get past them; I have in the past, and I can learn more about the triggers for them and also where this all comes from, which will help greatly in the counsellinge process.

So there’s hope I’ll improve in the long term, and blips are just that.  Just as I’ve hoped that my confidence and skill and expression via mixed media would improve.  I’ve just had a look back at the mixed media I’ve done in the last fortnight or three weeks, and even I can see how it’s all developed, in a positive way.

What’s made the difference for me with mixed media is finding the confidence to do my best to do it my way and to explore it in my way.  I have a lot more exploring to do, and a lot more confidence building in what I do with it. I will journey along this road, along with my drawing and illustration skills, maybe even writing, and with healing what I can of my mebtal health issues.

So, choosing the word hope for it to appear on this piece of art was most appropriate.

Mixed media

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Over the past two or three days, Ive been making ‘inchies’ and decided it was time to put them together as a mixed media artwork, which isn’t yet finished, as you can see above.

Inchies are 1″x 1″ pieces of art, though I have made some 1″ x 2″ tiles too.

There is something very satisfying in making such tiny pieces of art, and it’s nice to turn them into some kind of mosaic.  I’ve chosen inchie (and betwinchie) tiles that say something about me, some of them quite literally by the words on them, others more symbolically.

Making the inchies and betwinchies

To make the inchie and betwinchie tiles I started with mixed media paper.  My preferred brand is Claire Fontaine, and I used some sheets of white mixed media paper, and some that are natural in colour.

Distress oxide inks and a stencil brush were used to add colour to the sheets of paper, with a misting of water applied once this was complete to bring out the ‘oxide’ effect.  The Distress Oxides look quite different on the natural paper, more muted as the oxide ‘bloom’ is more apparent.

Next, I cut the sheets into 1″ x 1″ and 1″ x 2″ tiles.  I edged the tiles with black by using the edge of a wide tip on an alcohol marker.  Drawings and patterns were then added using Pitt Artist pens by Faber-Castell.  I wrote words on some of the tiles, on a few I used some ChitChat stickers from Tim Holtz’s Ideaology range.  Then,  Derwent Inktense pencils with a water brush and coloured pencils with a blending stick from Faber Castell were used to add colour depth to the tiles.  The next step was to add white highlights and metallic and iridescent details using gel pens and paints.

To finish the tiles, I added a layer of 3D Crystal Lacquer by Sakura Hobby Craft to give them a highly glossy, slightly domed finish.

I then had a small bowl filled with these tiles, and had to try to do something with them.  So, I thought I’d make a kind of mosaic of ones that said something about me.

Making the background and mosaic

I needed a background for this, so I took another piece of the  Mixed Media paper, in white, and added colour using ink blending tools and the Distress Oxide inks, followed by a light spray of water.

I used various stencils, again with ink blending tools and Distress Oxides to add patterns.  After each stencil, I sprayed the stenciled areas quite liberally with water so that the dye part of the Oxides inks ran, but the pigment ink remained in place.  I also let any puddles of water form or run as they wished to do so.  Finally, I edged the piece of paper with Vintage Photo Distress oxide ink, again using a blending tool, and then sprayed with water once again.

I didn’t take a photo of the background, which I was really pleased with and almost didn’t want to do anything with other than keep it and look at it.

However, I gritted my teeth and started to choose the tiles I wanted to use and to lay them out on the background.

I then used a collage medium to stick the tiles down, and the result is what you see.

It’s all a bit wibbly-wobbly, but that’s quite representative of me!

Learning points

I know it’s not finished yet, but it’s drying as I found that if I got the collage medium on the Crystal Lacquer finish I got dull patches, so an extra layer of Crystal Lacquer has been applied to the affected tiles and these are now drying.  So, I need to make the inchies and not finish them off before I adhere them to a project, or I need to find a different way to adhere them!

The background has warped – a lot.  I need to think about how to either keep it as flat as possible through all the repeated sprayings and dryings of the paper when the background is made, or I need to find a much thicker paper/card to use for this.