I have had a few questions in the past about why I paint the things that I paint. For example: Colourful figures of close up female body studies.
The truth is, for one I think they're beautiful, but most importantly I like talking about the uncomfortable.
As an A-Level student I studied psychology, sociology and Fine Art and I surrounded myself with friends who would openly discuss the world, society, politics and the criminal justice system. This resulted in me becoming a very socially aware young woman who hated the phrase "it's just the society we live in, stop being such a snowflake".
But why? Who said? Middle aged white men? Why do they control our world and society? That's not fair. Why Why Why Why Why.
I understand that this type of person can annoy a lot of people.
'Lads' in sixth form would jest that I was 'hardcore feminist' and a 'social justice warrior'. I wasn't afraid to question the imbalance of equality.
It's safe to say I enjoy learning about the inequality and inequity of society, and why it has come to be the way it is today.
I'm not saying I know the ins and outs, or that i'm a political genius, or even a social justice warrior. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. I feel as though I don't have the knowledge to stand up with pride yet. I am more of a thinker, a questionner, a conversationalist, a sharer and learner.
When it comes to my art, i'm not someone who focuses on a landscape because it's pretty. Or a flower because I like that it's pink and has petals. No. Art for me is a form of communication, it provokes thinking and conversation. My art is meaningful and personal.
I find myself drawn to the uncomfortable more and more: Nude images, gender identity, black culture and racial discrimination, and the rest.
The story behind the bodies I paint today is this..
During GCSEs I found myself exploring the female body more and more, focusing on sexism, sexuality, body image and mental health. I explored colour, which I believed drew the eye into the painting to focus it on the body, to enhance its beauty. It's eyecatching.
I began to paint a colourful final piece of a body, which had meaning to me as I struggled a lot with body image issues. It was small, simple, tentative, and not expressive enough of the meanings behind the painting.
I spoke with my teacher, following the completion of the painting, who had a very honest and useful conversation with me about expressing my ability and meaning to the full potential she knew I had. She told me to go back, restart, something bigger, bolder, more me, less structured.
I went away and thought about it, and then I had the scariest yet most exciting idea.
I was going to paint myself.
In my underwear.
At 16 years old.
Showing the shame and vulnerability I felt with my clothes off.
You could say I was crazy, or you could say I was dedicated.
I pushed myself to create something that was personally uncomfortable for me. After looking upon many other artworks of other people's stories and discomfort, I was now the subject of the painting. I was the one that would cause the discomfort of the audience by showing them my story through a painting.
This sparked a love for body art for me. Embracing body types, colours, shapes, sizes, wrinkles, stretch marks, scars. But most importantly, the beauty. I wanted to embrace the beauty of real bodies.
Then came the colourful paintings.
Many of the poeple who have seen the pink painting may not know that it is from a reference image of me.
During lockdown I was once again, experiencing some issues with body confidence. However, this time, through exploration of my art and other experiences, I no longer felt so shameful as I did in the GCSE painting. It has been a journey of learning and loving. So naturally, as an artist, I made something that expressed this: I painted myself in the most eyecatching way, a way that I had never done before. Bright, bold, beautiful colours and a confident, elegant pose.
The beauty of painting is that you can create whatever you like. If I wanted to paint the harsh reality of me looking in the mirror and picking at my body (which I did, for the GCSE painting) then I would. But this time I wanted a different feeling, something to make me proud and confident. But also something that viewers may look away from. It's outgoing and daring. Not everyone wants a colourful painting of a half-nude female body on their walls, and that's what I like about it.
Each person may percieve that painting in a different way. As someone who often analyses art: I see a nod to LBGT in the colours; I see confidence; I see female sexuality being embraced; I see discomfort in the placement of the hand on the tummy, but I also just see a pretty pink picture.
How you percieve it is up to you.
Now that I am taking on commissions for other people and they are asking me to paint their bodies and beautiful figures, I am enjoying creating something visually pleasing for them to be proud of. Something to help give them confidence and show them what a bad b***h they are.
Because damn... We've only got this body for so long before it becomes a distant memory, so why not flaunt it? Right?
So to put it simply: it's all about embracing people's differences; seeing beauty in things we've been told are wrong; and sparking uncomfortable conversations
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