This past year has been generous in its offering of chaos and mess. It is so challenging to maintain our mental health during Covid-19. I will write more soon about mental health in our pandemic, but in this article I share a slice of my personal answer: art-making.
Art-making, for me, is like a mental health vacation.
In the midst of chaos and messiness are chances to make and create. Get out of the swamp of analysing and over-thinking. Get your hands busy instead!
At first the image that resonated was a phoenix with crazy red feathers, a quirky bird.
A Focusing with art practice I like to do using Eugene Gendlin’s work, led me to my image. You can try that or maybe you have an inkling already.
I knew it had to fly and be 3-dimensional. I also knew I wanted to play with paper mache.
Ever since I’d seen a flying paper-mache sculpture of a woman at a home in Vancouver a decade ago, I’d wanted to make my own flying something. So this is really a decade in the making.
Once I had a sense of the bird I wanted to make, I started finding images and colour schemes on the internet that inspired me. I found some great photos of flying peacocks. Those helped me visualise and map out the structure of its body.
I started with a bundle of old plastic bags that I taped together to form a body, head and neck. Then I covered that with chicken wire to add structure. Then came the layer of paper mache that could become smooth and paintable. The bird started to form.
I was fortunate to have a friend from my performance troupe who gave me lots of amazing fabric cut offs. After painting it my favourite blue, cutting and sticking began. And it was ever so effective of getting me “away” when I couldn’t get away.
It’s a cheesy word now, but a lot is being manifested in this object. A realised longing to make; a phoenix/peacock who is bold and beautiful; a choice to make something enlivening out of a messy time.
In December 2020 “he” was finished and I was pleased. But where was he to hang?
My husband and I took him around the house to see where he fit the best. As home changes would have it I now had a new office space. In January 2021 he starting flying above my desk.
There is something about the expansive wings, the flamboyant feathers, and the rich blues, turquoises and greens that feel so life-affirming and freeing.
He makes pretty shadows on the walls that create an art dance of his own. He looks out towards the window, ready to fly out, and surprising people who look in. The fourth step should be “interaction”.
And you? Could your mental health during covid use some help?
What do you have a hankering to make? Make time for your dreaming. Try Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing with art (Get in touch and I can lead you if you like). Find images that inspire.
Be resourceful. Use what you have. Find and re-find the flow. Allow it to change.
Write about what you made, what is significant? Take in your creation. Be changed by it. Share it.