After becoming a registered nurse, earning my B.A. and raising my family, at age forty one I decided to switch gears and do something creative. I attended workshops in several different mediums and fell in love with stone carving, photography, and most recently, painting. I make art in each of these with a similar attitude; it's all about the process, not the final product.
My approach is experimental and playful. Rarely planning the outcome, I prefer to let the work evolve as I go, allowing the interaction between my mood and the piece itself to direct what I do next. If I'm happy with the result, that's a bonus. The real reward comes from the joy of the process of creating the art and expressing myself visually.
Making photographs using in-camera techniques such as multiple exposure and intentional camera movement appeals to my love of unpredictability and potential for making images that are expressive and often abstract.
A SH*TSTORM OF EMOTIONS
“Our feelings are not there to be cast out or conquered. They're there to be engaged and expressed with imagination and intelligence.”
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth in uglier ways.”
Almost four years ago, several days after celebrating our forty-seventh wedding anniversary and the day before he was due to retire from a fifty year career as a dentist, my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This shocking, sudden and unexpected news changed our lives forever.
Thankfully the cancer was found extremely early and he was given a better prognosis than most pancreatic cancer patients. Despite this positive news he had a long, difficult and uneven recovery from a complex surgery and eight months of chemotherapy. Now, nearly four years later, he is still in remission but struggles daily with issues from the radical surgery. Several times a year we suffer the anxieties of scans to make sure that there has been no recurrence. Life is slowly returning to normal, but it is a new normal; every aspect of our lives is different now.
During the first year I didn't make any photographs. I tried once or twice but it reminded me too much of life “before”. Also I generally make my photographs while in a quiet, meditative mood, and I was anything but that most of the time. However, I painted almost every day. Painting is more immediate and physical and by working in an abstract way, I was able to acknowledge and express my feelings on paper or canvas. Although I often make adjustments to my paintings even after I think they're finished, I never altered the work that I made that year. They were raw, spontaneous honest expressions of my emotions during a difficult time. I was only interested in the process of painting them (very therapeutic!) and had no desire to improve them in terms of aesthetics.
For this project, I decided to examine and visually express the roller coaster of emotions I experienced these past four years as I looked after my husband and adjusted to the many changes in our lives. My moods were turbulent and fluctuated many times a day, especially during the first year. One minute I'd be a nervous wreck, ten minutes later, ready to boil over with rage, and in between, overcome with sadness. Mind numbing boredom laced with anxiety characterized the many hundreds of hours spent waiting in hospitals, along with moments of relief when results were good or if he was having a more comfortable day. Since I had painted my emotions almost daily, I decided to create this project by photographing these works; it seemed appropriate to consolidate the two mediums that I love and use to express how I feel. I used the in-camera multiple exposure feature, layering different sections of each painting with itself or bits and pieces of other works. Both at the time of capture and in post processing, I altered colour and composition to emphasize the mood. Although the resultant images look very different than the originals, they still convey the same emotions.
Working on this project has allowed me to further explore and integrate all the changes that have occurred in the past four years. As time passes the ups and downs are less consistently intense, yet they are ongoing. Our new normal continually evolves, as do our emotions.
I feel very fortunate to have the ability to create art both as a pleasurable and welcome distraction during a difficult time, and as a means of visually expressing my feelings.