I hope this finds you well during this unsettling and strange time. May 2020 is not how I envisaged – I have a certain big birthday at the end of this month and had several gatherings of friends and family planned, meals in lovely restaurants to look forward to plus a trip to the Outer Hebrides booked. The latter may still happen, I am hoping. I have paintings locked behind the doors of galleries and museums but also a solo exhibition to aim for in September, which I am also hoping, will happen.
In the grand scheme of things, I have much to be thankful for. I have my family with me (although this does also have it’s drawbacks at times!) and to date, we are all healthy and managing our restricted lives without too much difficulty. There are good days and not so good days. Watching the news does not always help!
I have found creating artwork very beneficial in terms of keeping me focused and calm, when there is much to be anxious about. Indeed, the benefits to mental health of creating art have long been known to Artists and more recently, being proven by more scientific studies. The process of drawing and painting- in any medium – engages parts of your brain that enables a more meditative, focused state. To really ‘loose yourself’ in creating artwork can often result in a loss of sense of time passing, even of blocking out sound as the creator grapples with the challenges of shape, colour, tone, light and emotion. There’s a lot going on! I think of this state as being in my ‘Creative Place’. You might recognise it.
I find when teaching and demonstrating however, I only have 1 foot in the door of my Creative Place. The other is very much thinking of how to explain and structure the process to others – sometimes in multiple or alternative ways. The brain is occupied with speaking almost constantly and sometimes I am drawing sideways so that a room full of people can see what I am doing. So I have to leave the door open to my Creative Place – I can’t shut it and be absorbed. Sometimes I can’t go in there at all for weeks. Being in there can be a wonderful release and other times, quite agonising but I have realised my artwork is such a fundamental part of my identity, that to neglect this creativity will lead to unhappiness.
Hence I strive to strike a balance between teaching and painting. I enjoy helping others find their way of working and recognise this as part of my creative practice. Finding my way into online teaching has been both challenging and exciting. It has also brought some surprising realisations. As I am able to break demonstrations down into smaller chunks, I can actually spend longer on a demo than I would in a ‘real life’ workshop. This means the demo is more detailed and I am possibly more relaxed as I know I can convey everything I want to and everyone can clearly see what I am doing without me having to draw sideways!
This also means I am probably a little more into my Creative Place too. Although I never quite shut the door entirely…
You can see more of Fiona’s work and access her online pastel teaching at www.fionacarvell.com