Paper dolls and miscarriage

I had 5 pregnancies and 2 live births 30 years ago. At the time I didn't really mourn my loss and I wonder if my anxiety and chronic migraines stem from the upheaval of hormones I experienced over 4 years.

Mostly I feel like have worked through my grief . However, I was knocked for six this week after reading an article in 'Therapy Today'

( Who Knew ? j.Gosney June 2017 vol 28 issue5) The article describes Gosney's work with grieving pregnancy loss. (I could have done with meeting her in the late 1980's). She talks about why there is 'such a silencing shame around miscarriage' I suspect it is because we don't want to upset or worry other newly pregnant parents.

I remember 'retreating from a world that had become a hostile environment peopled by babies, pregnant women and proud fathers' I moved my living room to the back of the house away from the twice a day school run of chatting happy Mums and buggies

I am not sure I experienced post traumatic stress but I definitely 'became vulnerable to anxieties….. and questioned my bodies ability to carry full term…. I realised I couldn't trust my body anymore.'

With my dyslexia and continuing migraines I still feel this phrase resonates strongly.

Most of my art doesn't look into this as a source of inspiration. however after the embodied reactions I keep getting to @gracemorgan's art on Instagram – I felt inspired to look at how I could explore this, using my paper doll technique.

My first go at womb mandala

Wombs with 8 week embryos( which is when the doctors thought things when things went wrong) I quite like the difference in the colours of the womb – photocopy , against the rawness of the real painted colour of the embryos

These feel a bit sanitised, I am shying away from blood. Which is ridiculous really. Though I am being a bit hypocritical because I dislike sanitary towel adverts on the TV

And another pretty one

http://www.bacp.co.uk/docs/pdf/16027_all%20editorial%20tt_jun17.pdf

Meditation inspired art making – Portugal 

One of the things I have enjoyed at the Omassim guest house is the daily meditation sessions. There has been a variety of different approaches to meditation on offer – an energy bath, candle and eye gazing and chanting. These sessions have inspired me to make art around the ideas explored – I had great fun making my paper dolls in meditation poses. 

Above are a few designs from the energy bath session. I had brought some backgrounds ready prepared with me – where I used pink ink sprayed through a doily. I used a mixture of pen and ink mandalas, neocolours and oil pastel to create the other effects. 

We chanted about the elements. (I wandered into the village one morning and found a shop selling primary coloured papers and oil pastels. These new supplies lent themselves very well to more paper doll mandalas) 


Then I had a very strange experience meditating looking into Jon’s left eye. It felt like everything else fell away except his eye. I got annoyed when he blinked because it broke the sensation. It felt like I didn’t know him at all and that the whole universe was some how available in his murky green eye. ( he he he) 

More Movement Medicine dancers this time in Orange 

Over the past 6 months I have made so many different mandalas that sometimes I don’t know what to do with them. I had been wanting to work with my movement medicine dancing ladies some more. So yesterday I made loads of cut out dolls. 

I was very amused about 30 minutes in,  that I needed to make the images stand out more – the colours were too samey or the patterned mandalas meant that the dancers got lost on the similar coloured backgrounds. 

An orange frenzy ensued which was very therapeutic and got my creative juices going. I had thought I was a bit stuck because I hadn’t danced for a week. 


I made some smaller templates so that I can cut circles of joined dancers – the idea of them all being connected appeals. Catherine ( http://catherinewright.co.uk/workshops/) mentioned us all being joined by a gold thread last session – but I can’t quite get my head around how that would fit visually within this work  – there is so much colour and pattern going on- they feel more like a  ‘5 Rhythms’  Chaos session (https://www.5rhythms.com/). I think I must have had Matisse’a ‘The dance’ going on somewhere in my head too 


https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/digital-collection/01.+Paintings/28411/?lng=


I love complimentary colours and the circles of dancers fit in with my mandalas – it’s all a bit bonkers colourwise – I enjoyed scrawling in blue oil pastel over the finished collages , but I think some of the more simple ones are very effective.


I produced some single dancers for some A5 pieces I had in my stash – I think maybe I should draw these figures individually. 

Trapped 

I was flipping through my Instagram feed this morning at 4.45am ( I keep waking up early ) when I was arrested by a piece by ‘gracemorganart’.  Which showed a photograph of some gloves. These had been stitched , the fingers joined together with  many tiny stitches. White on a red background. To me the fingers looked trapped. 
I am still floored by my emotional response. Which has stayed with me and which I can’t quite place. 

An image of my free exuberant paper dancer popped into my head, with her arms and legs chopped off and bound to her body like an Egyptian mummy, cocoon or a butterfly that died emerging from its chrysalis.

 Below is an exploration of the idea – it’s not quite grim enough 

Yesterday I visited a butterfly world near Dalkeith and I was fascinated by the chrysalids hanging from bamboo canes and some pinned to a wall. Most were empty, but a few had died and dead bodies lay on the floor. I felt a great sadness disproportionately to the event. 1 in 4 don’t make it ( according to the attendant ) 


The trapped feeling is focused on my neck and shoulders and stomach. A tingling embodied response. 

I have a strong need to write I MUST SAY NO TODAY. 

The thought of not being able to move my fingers freely is terrifying- to be caught in that web. I feel trapped, but what binds me? 

The need to say ‘No’ to my self , relates to a trance like state that I can get into where I am not in control and feel in free fall. ( Tara Brach talks about it being the state you are in before you become mindful) 

gracemorganart posted that she had to make the stitches to keep sane.’little bitty stitches on little bitty gloves, these little stitches kept me sane today’  I was in a trance state this week making too many flower stickers. I feel trapped in my mandalas and doodling sometimes – sitting on the sofa not moving enough. My hands hurt with all the small details. 


Then Yesterday I had great fun splodging paint on top of my neat outlines like some kind of rebellion against ‘neat and tidy stuck me ‘ ( lol) 

 

Below is another version of trapped – it reminds me a bit of ‘Aliens’ when they are waiting to explode out of bodies ……

Below A moth chrysalis up close and a butterfly that didn’t make it . I don’t like the drawing pins . 

Movement medicine inspired artmaking 

Over the weekend I participated at a movement medicine workshop. It was called ‘This being human’ and was facilitated by Catherine Wright. 

http://catherinewright.co.uk/

During a meditation about the tree of life I had this really clear image in my head of a human figure as a tree trunk with a black heart or hole where the heart should be. I have had a tight chest recently and palpitations as menopausal symptoms. I danced the feeling out. I am aware of being in touch with my head and my stomach – but there is a numbness where my heart is. 

During the workshop we worked with a poem by  Rumi called ‘ The Guest House’ 

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, 

some momentary awareness comes 

as an unexpected visitor. 

Welcome and entertain them all! 

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, 

who violently sweep your house 

empty of its furniture, 

still, treat each guest honourably. 

He may be clearing you out 

for some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, 

meet them at the door laughing, 

and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes, 

because each has been sent 

as a guide from beyond.

We did an exercise on Saturday where we welcomed a ‘guest’  and worked with a partner – talking, witnessing and using dance. I chose the idea of ‘disappointment’.  As I danced I became aware that I was relieving ‘something’  but it wasn’t disappointment. So I chose to revisit my confusion on Sunday. 

I am still unable to verbalise what is exactly present but I realised with relief that the hole is not black or vacant but a conduit that is not to be frightened or scared of. 

I needed to revisit this experience today through art making. 

Sketches for  ‘a black heart’ – I wrote in my journal ‘ figure rooted but with a hole where the heart should be’ 

 As I was dancing , holding my heart or the feeling of my hands up to my chest was important – drawing hands that don’t look like claws or sausages is always a stretch of my ability – I also needed the tree/body to be a real rounded shaped woman  

Conduit / portal heart sketch – there was such a sense of relief at the realisation that what was going on felt like a portal. As I was at a dance session it was important that I tried to convey movement. 

Black heart – in my head the tree trunk / body was red – the background is newspaper that I used as  protection paper. It is advertising a film and it has amused me that my figure could also look a bit like an ‘Oscar’ there is no way I would offer to be the mouldy for any figurine 😂😂😂😂 


Conduit/portal heart 


My mandalas seem to need to be in everything I do at the moment. The conduit doesn’t feel draining and the energy feels like it is not restricted by time and space. 

During the dance workshop we did a session where working in groups of 3 we witnessed , danced and or meditated , wrote or drew. During my first role as ‘meditator’ I doodled , the portal was very strong in my head and I produced this 

Developing a style , A3 size part 1- step by step 

Frequently over the years, I have been asked to do bigger work. I bailing at it because I like working in my kitchen on several things at once. However, the still life style I have been producing would work well A3 ( 12″x16.5″)

Drawing a mandala that big was a bit tricky until I got the hang of it

Stage 1 – mandala  drawing using water soluble teal ink on 140lb watercolour paper and cartridge paper 

Stage 2- Spritzed with water x4 

The second one is drawn with thin sharpie just to see what happens ( my turquoise pen ran out) I always think as I do each stage – leave it here …..


I love the slight differences that you get doing a series 

Part3- adding texture and energy drawing loose spirals in a variety of different pencils , gelatos and pens 


I also added some Galeria  Matt varnish because the blokey in my local art shop said it would act as a resist …… we shall see 

Stage 4 – sprayed pink watersoluble pink ink through a crochet diolly 


I have decided that If I am doing teal and turquoise acrylic backgrounds on top and of these I need to add a bit more zing to the underneath layer. Disappointing there is no evidence of the varnish acting as a resist at this stage …..


But not too much 
Fluorescent pink and yellow is just a bit too much even for me …. ( above I spread it on with a credit card) 

Developing a style part 2 

I have been churning out my back grounds for my still life paintings. My ‘Critical Friend’  Deb suggested that they didn’t look ‘ finished’. I borrowed another vase and messed around with my IPhone looking at composition. 


I like me my layering app- Image Blender and the filter App Prisma for messing about with my images . I wanted to try and get a simillar effect to my painting but using digital methods  


I was pleased with the result – sometimes I wonder why I paint. I don’t get an  emotional response working digitally. 

I started working on several paintings of the same thing at once – because I find it easier to become emerged and like series paintings 


I wasn’t satisfied with these, the vase is horrid to draw and the flowers looked too solid and fleshy. I wondered if the landscape format was too big for the subject 


This was still feeling dull and had lost much of the energy of the initial background . The patterns showed through, but the over all effect was too flat , (teal does not photograph well either) . 

I sent a couple of images to Deb – she liked the last picture  but said: 

‘I think you need to find your ‘why’ and then it will all come together – Why are you making these pictures, what’s the motivation, where’s the energy coming from? ‘ 

I was annoyed at my self – I am trying to find a way to paint  that is mine – then I was more honest 

‘It’s got something to do with my life being a facade – all the turmoil underneath – feeling unwell, traveling , making a mess, mandalas, seeking for spiritual connection . The flowers being plastic because Jon and I are allergic – all the conventions of  a still life – on top of that the flat colour – but some of me coming through ‘ 

I knew what I had to do – I ran the pictures under a tap and attacked them with a washing up abrasive sponge 


The facade is peeling 

I attacked the smaller ones too. I have some others that I produced on printer paper but they are too fragile to be treated in the same way ( lol) 


It’s funny – I have restricted  my self to blues/ teals because I love them  – but I think the stronger colours underneath represent how I am feeling , and work better with the teal/ blue combo on top. 

Next week I shall probably be doing something completely different