I started my blog nearly two years ago, mainly as a way to catalogue my art and add a few snippets from my life. And it is funny looking back and seeing how much it has changed, because I have changed. I’ve gained so much confidence in lots of areas of my life, and rather than just being a catalogue, this blog has become something more tangible and meaningful. It is engaged – with others, with nature, with things I do in my daily life. It is like a scrapbook, a photo album, a sketchbook, yet it breathes because I share it with people similar to me and engage through my projects, ideas and dreams.
When I first discovered what art therapy was – I was about 24 – I kind of felt like it was was a distant career path I would find difficult to tread. I think, having lost my job as a receptionist (and also being treated like shit while there) my confidence and self belief was crushed. I spent 13 months unemployed and had to move back with my parents 60 miles away from the University town I had lived and grown up in for 7 years. It was a dark period and I really felt there was no way out of debt, darkness and my spirit being crushed. Yet I never stopped creating art. In fact, while struggling to find any kind of job during the year after the recession, I discovered a new interest in paper crafts, and soon began to experiment; with embossing, ribbons, die cutting. I would spend a lot of time making charms with Fimo and watching YouTube channels for ideas, tips, thoughts.
Moving to Manchester proved to be another difficult time (I seemed to like doing extreme things close together!) and I worked in a call centre for 6 months. It was as bad as you can imagine. At one point my PC broke and my phone got cut off, plus I no longer had a TV, so I felt like I was literally cut off from the world. Yet, I would get home from work and create. I started making decopatch items and sending them to friends, then I found an idea for using old books and cutting the pages out to create book. I would decorate this with trinkets and poems, and give them away as gifts. I began a large collage project using different papers onto foam board. I also started painting using oils.
When I moved in with my now ex, and got a new job, I decided to start a journal for my drawings that I could use for painting ideas. On my lunch breaks I would start a little sketch in my moleskine, while also jotting down notes. As my relationship started to crumble and where we lived became suffocating, I would retreat to my journal and pour my energy into it. I started seeing a psychotherapist and gradually, as I was able to open up and explore my deep seated issues, my approach to my journal changed. I was less precious with it and started to use paint and ink stamps. I looked up art journaling and found a whole new way of making art. For my 29th Birthday I bought loads of art goodies, including my Dylusions art journal. By this point I had moved into a better place and my ex was now in the past. I had my own space again and felt like I could breathe.
My blog reflects this journey too and, recounting it here, I realise just how far I have come in the last 6 years. I’m 30 but feel like I have been through a lot for my age. Yet I always have my art making as a place of solace. And this is why I know becoming an art therapist is the right path for me. It will be hard I have no doubt. But I truly believe in the therapeutic and healing properties of making something with your hands, expressing and letting go. I did get other help with my problems, but art has always been with me as a place of comfort, imagination and respite. And it is the one thing I could feel belonged to me, no matter where I ended up. It is this I want to share with others.