Is Pain Part of Creativity?

Despair, 16 x 16 cm, pigment pen and colour pencils on paper

Is pain part of creativity? It seems to be for me. Often, I begin creating a piece of art because I’m in psychological pain and it can transform that pain into healing. The drawing above began on the anniversary of my father’s suicide. Despair was what I was feeling and, somehow, I was able to tap into that feeling and watch it take shape on paper. By externalising it and writing in my journal about it, I could understand it more. I wrote a blog post about the beginning of this process.

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Connection versus Despair and the Winner is… Connection

Drawing despair – work in progress – pigment pen on paper

The Pain of Remembrance

The day before yesterday I was ready to throw in the towel and go back to Brighton; back to my cosy flat where I don’t have to plan where I’m going to sleep, or shower, or get water from (I’m living in my van for a couple of weeks whilst visiting university in person). It got too hard, especially when Boris Johnson announced new Covid-related restrictions. As I sat in the university library trying to work out how the new restrictions would affect me, I felt horribly alone.

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Case Study: What is the Experience of Flow Expression Like?

I’ve created this image over 4 sessions of Flow Expression with Julia.

Amy

Psychological freedom

Amy has been attending the Flow Expression drop in since March 2020, attending the first one in person. She then switched to online when Covid-19 disrupted our lives. She chose to keep working on the same image at each session. Amy notes that she’s able to feel psychologically free to be creative during the sessions:

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Seeing is believing: how an expressive art grief ritual helped me gain clarity and strength

Last night was the anniversary of my dad’s suicide in 1980. Most years I just ignored it and tried to carry on, but this year I decided to do a letter writing ritual. My ‘letter’ turned out to be a piece of expressive art as I followed my intuition and did what I needed to do throughout the process.

My expressive art ‘letter’ to my dad who killed himself 39 years ago.
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Power Up (2018)

In September 2018 I attended an art course: Graphic Novels Real Life Stories run by Ottilie Hainsworth at Phoenix Brighton. During this course we were invited to make a mini graphic novel, using an existing booklet as the structure for it. I chose a Ditchling Museum booklet and created something unexpected that I decided to refine and extend, so that I could enter the first twelve pages into a Laydeez Do Comics graphic novel competition (see my next project Pieces of Me). These images show the booklet I amended. It’s called Power Up.

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Insight (2018)

Insight (2018)
Colour pencils on paper
A4

I started Insight whilst staying at a friend’s house. During the course of my stay our relationship broke down and I felt triggered. I left and continued to work on this drawing, which took three weeks to complete.

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Perceiving (2017)

Perceiving (2017)
Colour pencils on paper
A5

Perceiving began with a circle in the middle of the page, which I used a compass to draw. I decided I wanted the picture to consist of circles, some of them incomplete, and I followed my intuitive urges from that point.

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