This summer I held my first exhibition as an artist. Art is something which has always been bubbling away for me, ever since I had my first cartoon commissions for a Welsh learners’ magazine while I was studying for my A levels. But as often happens, ‘real life’ got in the way and the art took a back seat.
…Until this summer.
I was invited by the owner of a local café bar to hold an exhibition of my work there. Initially I was a bit reluctant, I didn’t consider myself a ‘proper’ artist and the whole idea quite frankly terrified me. But then I thought of what my friends would say if I turned the opportunity down, and I remembered my daughter’s favourite saying:
‘Every day you should do something that scares you.’
So I did something that scared me – I said yes!
It was this Orange Man that had kicked the whole thing off – he had sparked a lot of interest on Facebook when I shared him there, and people seemed to like him. I’ve always enjoyed life drawing but what I’d tried to capture with my Orange Man was not the precise recording of the human figure in all its glory, but an imagined world going on inside and around that figure – the ‘spirit’ that resides within and spills beyond the boundary of every human body.
In my academic research I encounter people who live with and embody an ‘otherworldly’ spirit in every moment of their lives, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to bring together my research interests with my creative ones. So in my impressions of the human body I’ve become interested in trying to capture not anatomically perfect bodies but impressions of the spirit within (and spiritual connections beyond) which emerge from that body.
There are artists in the spiritual community who take this to a much higher level. A range of techniques are employed in psychic or channelled art, where the artist allows something other than their conscious mind to guide what they produce. Such techniques are used to open up links to otherworlds and entities, including spirit guides or deceased souls, and can aid the development of a wider awareness for both the artist and the person viewing the art.
I’m not claiming to be doing anything quite so profound, but my Orange Man certainly opened up a new world for me. Through the act of trying to capture his hidden world, I’ve released the creative spirit that was still smouldering away inside me, dormant for over twenty years. And I have to say on this occasion I agree wholeheartedly with my daughter – doing something that scared me really did pay off!