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Self Portraits...of the Mind

After my first ever Private View and Solo Art Exhibition at Cass Art Manchester (that I begrudgingly took down a week ago), I have done a lot of thinking about my journey and progression as an artist. What does art and creative expression mean to me? How did it all start, and what is next?

The more I think about it, the clearer it becomes.

From a young age my dad always encouraged me to be creative whether it was painting in the backyard, sketching my favorite animals, or designing my very own comic book characters. Every Friday during summer holidays I would record (yes on VHS!) Bob Ross' "Joy of Painting" on PBS, so we could watch it together when he got home from work.

From high school through to University and my professional career I have always been creative (yes, even if it meant sketching in textbook margins during University lectures or doodling during overdrawn audit training sessions...).

The older I get, the greater my love and appreciation for the arts has become. Visiting Art Galleries turned into volunteering at Art Galleries. Taking pottery led me to dabble in screen-printing. Really, any chance I can, I love surrounding myself with my passion for art.

During my CA Convocation in 2015, the ongoing joke was really brought to life when my presenter introduced me as "an artist trapped in an accountant's body". This statement, has never been more true.

For me, creative expression of any kind is extremely liberating and fulfilling. In the corporate world of audit and corporate finance, there is no room for creativity and self expression (unless you consider changing the occasional cell colour in Excel to a soft pink being creative...). The nature of corporate life is rigid. Structured. There are rules and regulations to follow. Standards and policies to adhere to.

Artistic expression, especially through painting, however, gives me the opportunity to deviate. To rebel from order. To embrace disorder. Abstraction gives me the freedom to express myself on canvas. Whatever I am feeling in the present moment whether it be stress, anxiety, anger, sadness, frustration, or even joy. Those emotions pour out of me onto canvas. When I create, I am living in the present moment. I feel alive.

In a way you could consider my abstract works as "Self Portraits". They are representations of myself at a given moment in time. The choice of colour. The texture. The layers. The medium. The application. The fluidity. It is all organic. Whatever I am feeling at the time dictates how the piece will turn out. The process of painting is an extension of myself, therefore the painting itself is my own reflection.

A lot of people ask if I have a plan or a preconceived idea of what I want a painting to look like. If I am honest, sometimes I do, hence the name of my recent exhibition "Premeditated Spontaneity". I may walk into the studio knowing exactly what I want the end product to look like.

However, next thing you know, the unconscious mind takes over. My application becomes swift and aggressive. Instead of dripping I start throwing paint on canvas. Scraping. Smearing. Blending. I express my present feelings on canvas. Like a form of therapy, there is a sudden release. Tension is gone, stress disappears, and a sense of calm remains.

Through this process the painting is continually changing. Morphing. This process allows me to experiment. Develop new techniques. And develop as an artist. And that painting staring back at me has barely any trace of what I originally planned. But nonetheless is a part of me. The painting IS me.

This is one of the most exciting parts of painting via a technique similar to Abstract Expressionism. There is so much unknown. There is so much uncertainty. The process just happens, regardless of your original intention.

Discovering how much joy painting has brought to me is incredible. I know this is only a stepping stone to a creative future.

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