Arriving in Sofia at the start of September and having a deadline for an exhibition that was only 3 weeks away was super stressful for me. Not just because it is a short time to make something from new but also because my work takes a long time to make in its own! I have a very particular process in creating new works starting form nothing and just making stuff that I don’t even know what I am making until I take a step back to reflect and stop to think. But that is the way that it was and that is the way it had to be done!
When I first arrived I really did have no clue what I was going to create for the show. I was just remaking stuff I had already made in slightly different ways and it just wasn’t working for me.
However, towards the end of the first week myself and the other artist in residence (Megan Hepburn @cracherdanslasoupe) – we visited the Vitosha Mountains and it was so utterly beautiful. It was here that I was inspired by creating something new and something slightly different. I was specifically inspired by the Golden Bridges of the Vitosha Mountains and even more specifically the rocks themselves that were covered in a green-y/golden-y colour. Actually this is why this certain area of the mountains was named the Golden Bridges due to the unusual lichen covered rocks. This is where my 3-week long project began.
At first I was actually really nervous about working with colour because it’s something as a rule that I don’t really do – even if it was only a little colour I still felt like it was very out of my comfort zone. But I made a rule to myself whilst being here on the residency. I decided that I would say yes to everything – everything that would push me out my comfort zone in terms of both art and socially. I guess sometimes (a lot of the time) I am very introverted. Perhaps that is due to my disorders or it is just the way I am as a person. But regardless either way, it does get in the way sometimes. I often feel awkward and out of place in social situations so I made an agreement that I would push myself more on this trip.
Whilst hiking through the Vitosha Mountains it became apparent to me that I entered a similar state of mind when painting as I did in the mountains. I realised that I was kind of zoning out, the same way I did when I’m creating – almost as if I am leaving reality for a short while. Both the mountains and my practice are a place for me to disassociate from the continuous conflicts and emotional turbulence that plague me. It is a means of escaping the realms of darkness – whether that be only for a short while or for an eternity.
After my mountain epiphany, I still knew that I wanted to combine my new found inspiration with my previous works. My whole practice is centred around the darkness and it isn’t something that I will be leaving behind soon anytime.
The darkness is my void.
SO: I started experimenting and playing around with different types of marks and mediums.
I started with how I know, drawing and painting. But for me, although I was trying something new and something with colour – this was TOO colourful for me. It was too much. It wasn’t working for me. I like working with simple. Working with minimalism because for me personally it is the simplicity that creates the complexity. Sometimes less is more and within my practice I think this is something that is actually quite important.
The viewer should be entranced with the marks and the humbleness of the work. It is something that can be highly thought of by some but also disregarded by others. It is the combination of beauty and sadness. It is the madness that feeds the work but that is hidden – just like it is in real life. The process is what contains all the madness and the stress and the conflict and all the ominous thoughts, but on the surface it is hidden. One may not realise what has gone into the work until they delve deeper, until they as an entity experiences something similar to the darkened soul.
This was a small experiment that I created whilst trying to figure out what was best in terms of shapes and colours. At first I started creating from a photograph that I took but I didn’t think that it was working so well. I started to create my own shapes and tones depending on what I felt was right. But I didn’t know how ‘right’ it was until I stopped and took a break. Like I have mentioned before, my subconscious takes over. I lose my mind – but in a good way. I just go with what is natural, which what my thoughts tell me to do. Perhaps tell isn’ the right word. I just let my emotions and my thoughts take over. I don’t think about what I am doing per say, but I let my paintings move me.
My process is something that I have done before and will probably continue to do so. I used a really small brush to create the textures within the work. But different from before when I have only used black I enjoyed working with both black and white creating and mixing as I go on the canvas. I make each mark individually and at times whilst both colours were wet they would mix in wonderful and bountiful ways which I really enjoyed. The textures and shapes and patterns that were created – I did not know what was going to happen which was both thrilling and nerve wracking.
For me, there is a very fine line between order and chaos. One persons order is another persons chaos and within painting I have an equal balance of both. My day to day life is most definitely order. I have to have everything planned out, every day, all day. I need to know when to set my alarm for the following events next day. Need to plan what to have for dinner days in advance. I even plan what pair of socks I am going to wear every morning which has actually proven a challenge whilst being here because a lot of the days I haven’t needed to wear socks because it has been so warm. It may sound silly, I mean this wouldn’t even enter normal peoples minds but it is just the way it is. And it is a lot better now because for a while there I would get really upset or stressed or angry if I didn’t have a plan of what was happening but I have learned to deal with it a lot better now.
This is where the chaos comes in because my art to me is chaotic – in a good way I believe. When creating, it is the only place where I feel I do not need a plan. What is to be, will be and in this situation for my mind it is completely fine and it is a weird phenomena to me. Like, why? I guess the subconscious works in wonderful ways and when doing this it is a way for me both remember and forget the negative thoughts. It is a way for me to think about them in a safe environment. Sometimes I get sad when I am painting because I think about the things that has happened to me to make me the way I am and I often ask myself why? Why me? But that’s okay because I guess if these things hadn’t happened or if I didn’t have these disorders/illnesses that I have and have had, perhaps I wouldn’t be able to create what I create.
In other cases, in different times of different days I feel the opposite when painting. I feel happy. I feel content. I feel at ease. It takes the pain and confusion and feeling of lost away. Suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder often creates high highs and low lows and random moods that come from nowhere or seemingly nowhere.Mixed with my anxiety and panic attacks it makes it even worse but creating seems to help either calm it down or have a positive outlet for these things.
I guess you could say, painting is my muse?
Very cliche but hey, some cliches are true.