A library to fill your soul

Wow! We've been really spoilt for the past two weeks with such awesome posts from the lovely Anna and Michelle <3 now you have to put up with me for another week....hahah sorry!

Bit of a short and (hopefully) sweet one from me this week! On the basis that I'm useless and forgot to document the beginning of the process....so you'll have to use some imagination to begin with...sorry!

When we chose inspirational quotes for our prompt for this month, it was clearly a no brainer for me.

“To live in a world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books” Manly Palmer Hall, 1928*

This is one quote that has followed me about wherever I go, both in the figurative and literal sense. It holds such a lot of meaning to me, and has helped me to realise and see the truth about what I once did (and I admit I still sometimes do) see to be a 'disability'. I don't connect with the world and the people in it in the neurotypical way, I am what they call atypical. I see and respond to the quote in several ways. Firstly, it's in the way Manly Palmer Hall probably meant it, which is about not understanding the world and about walking through life eyes closed and blind to the small things, the uncaptured moments and the brief encounters we share with one another and within ourselves. Little things made BIG. And then upon realising this truth, we ignore the real reason for being in such a place; why enter a library (it's very existence is to house books) and to not touch the books around you, to not connect with the words and experiences they contain?

But secondly it is about my failure to connect to and engage with the people around me, to not understand the social rules and expectations. To be unable to engage means I cannot fully play the game of life. This has been an unwavering and utterly incapacitating feeling for the majority of my adult life. If I cannot play because I cannot intuitively know or follow the rules, then I cannot not 'win' the game of life. I fail to see the meaning of existence. Following this, on the flip side, I see that I have to find and establish my own atypical sense of the world, to engage in and actively seek out those books that call to me and to fill my soul with their words.

Enough philosophising lol and onto some arty farty!

So here you just need to picture a girl surrounded by chaos, with messy messy hair printing some stuff from her computer. I began by pulling up clinical definitions and diagnostic criteria and printed them onto normal copier paper, which I then stuck down into my sketchbook using some good ol' glue stick. I blobbed a load of gesso over the top and worked a semi white wash. I aimed for a fairly even coat but with some lighter patches so that some of the text could peep through. I waited rather impatiently for it to dry...I then subsequently forgot about it and became absorbed in other things....mostly my rainbow crochet blanket. So imagine a page with some text covered in white chalkyish paint drying in the background and a bright colourful blanket :)

So once I remembered what I was meant to be doing I decided I'd have a go at a more mixed approach. I've been really inspired, by a book that a family friend passed onto me to really push the boundaries of what I'm comfortable doing in terms of my artwork. 

Mixed media is generally something I shy away from and avoid dabbling in. So in light of the qoute itself I decided it was time I changed that. I started work on building up my colours for the background, it was actually a lot harder than I thought. I found I was second guessing myself than I ever do with my other creations. I couldn't decide whether I had used too much or too little. So I just kept dabbing more and more acrylic paint on blowing it dry for a bit and then just splodging more on top. Sadly I lost quite a bit of the background text and it is only really visible when you really look for it.

Yesterday I took a trip to Hobbycraft and had a good mooch about, I came across some stencils and decided to some up. I don't have many stencils in my art paraphernalia, and the ones I do have tend to be for lettering. I ummed and ahhed for a bit, got complained at for dithering and ended up going for a swirly one and one that reminded me of Lavender and Wheat. Stalks. I decided they would work well with what I was trying to achieve. Having never really created anything like this before I was sort of just winging it. Experimenting with contrasting colour and texture. I tried not to focus too much on placement nor a complete transfer. I also wanted to try out the reverse of the stencil, a tip I took from the book, so I flipped the stencil over and gave it a couple of good pats haha. It is definitely a trick I'd like to try again!

Having gone for some strong, bold colours against the pastel background I decided I wasn't keen on how strong the contrast was. So added another wash of gesso to try and dull the effect. It kinda worked, it did pull up more texture and deeper relief in the paint which I'm not sure translates so well in the photographs but you definitely see in person. An unexpected win! 

I then decided that one type of stencil wasn't enough so I added some of the swirls in gold and silver.

I had originally planned on hand writing the quote but decided against it and opted to print it out and stick it in, as a) my handwriting could do with a lot of improvement and b) I wanted to keep it looking more mixed media and follow the tips from the book. I felt the strips of paper were getting a bit lost in amongst the rest of the piece so I quickly and rather roughly edged them in black liner (which I stupidly didn't check whether it was waterproof) and smudged it a little in some places.

This exercise for me was more about having fun and enjoying the creative process. As I mentioned in my previous blog post I can get a little too clinical and sucked into the realms of perfectionism. Geraldine (the very wise lady that she is) said to me (after I grumbled about it) that there is no room for perfectionism in mixed media and she's right. I tried to worry less about the placement and position of things and just got stuck in and came away with a pretty nice piece of artwork and some messy hands to boot.

Well I guess that wasn't so short was it?

I'd love to know what inspirational quotes or passages or poems speak to you and how you use that inspiration whether it is in your artwork, worklife or your day to day life!

Thanks for reading :)

In a bit guys xx 

*  Hall, Manly Palmer (1928) The Secret Teachings of All Ages Philosophical Research Society 1994


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