Art and psychology have fascinated me since I was a child and I feel really fortunate to have been able to incorporate both interests into my life. For me, art is about finding balance, both within the artwork and within myself through the creative process.
Within a piece of artwork, there can be countless opposing visual elements. The artwork can hold all of these – both the light and the dark, the hard and the soft, the abstract and the figurative. Similarly, whilst creating the artwork there can be countless opposing attitudes within the artist who’s creating it. The artist can express both sadness and joy, they can adopt a subjective and objective perspective, and embrace both the destructive and creative aspects of the art-making process. A dance with balance takes place as these dualities are expressed, held and transformed in the artwork.
As the dance unfolds it tells a story which gradually takes material form in the emerging artwork. The culmination of the dance is captured in the finished image, where the combination of visual elements may appear harmonious or discordant to the creator or viewer. I believe this snapshot represents the artist’s internal state of mind, which when mirrored back to the artist can help them increase their self-awareness. Similarly, the parts of the artwork that resonate with a viewer can connect them with parts of themselves that are seeking balance and hint at how they can find it. I compare this dance with balance between an artist and their artwork with the dance between the forces of nature within an ecosystem, interacting with each other as they reach a state of equilibrium.
Though this may all sound complicated, I believe anyone can engage in their own version of this process very naturally. Picasso famously said:
Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
The demands of adult life often lead us to feel blocked by our own judgments, fears, or the weight of responsibility. But art making can give us permission to temporarily let go of these demands and simply play with the art materials instinctively, as we may have done when a child. Doing this can reconnect us with the natural flow of life and this often brings a huge sense of relief and freedom. In my work as an art therapist, the biggest reward has been to see the people I work with unlock this vitality and make discoveries about themselves through the development of their own artistic process.