Updated: Jun 26, 2019
This is the painting I made for the new Rae Spoon album, 'Mental Health'. and the first single 'I Can't Sleep' features Becky Black from The Pack AD. The first single is out now and the Album is due to be released this August. Here are some process pics, and a write up about my thoughts on the painting. The design and text overlay on the painting is by Noel at Typotherapy.
About The Painting
The painting shows a line of us in all our different gender expressions walking wearily into the mouth of the monstrous yet transformational mother bat. Bat's are blind and nocturnal. They thrive despite being in the darkness. Their feelings and senses are profound. They are highly tuned and sensitive to their surroundings. Mental illness can make us feel like we are living in the darkness- our feelings are highly tuned and sensitive to our world- sometimes in ways that make it very difficult to pass through the world in the way that is socially accepted or prescribed.
On our feet, we wear medicine as shoes. It is to help us get through the gateways of healing. These 'pills' could be any kinds of medicines that help us heal through the darkest times. There are many different kinds of medicines- natural, pharmaceutical, energetic and more. All medicines have a place in the road to healing. Sometimes we use addictions as our medicine when we find no other options available to us. Essentially we are seeking pain relief. The road to healing can be long and hard and there is no right or wrong.
Outside, the atmosphere is filled with our helpers and our demons. Both teaching us equally- some with kindness, some with difficulty. These amorphous beings are forming and dissolving in the spaces between what is and what isn't; the real and the unreal, the known and the unknown.
Through the gateway of the mother bat's mouth (our voice!), we enter into a transformative realm. It's a place where we reconnect with ourselves and our lost parts. It is where we re-integrate into OUR village, on OUR terms- not the village that was forced on us, not the one that broke us.
We reconnect with our internal village and our external village. This new village is where we are safe and nourished and connected, and where all roads lead equally to each house.
(The village is on top of the bats head, the letters have obscured it a little, but it is there).
I believe that integrating back into our chosen village is essential to mental health. Without the 'village', we are still vulnerable, we can be lost.
This is the vision I have for our collective healing. This is part of my journey to wellness through a lifelong struggle towards mental health.
* I am grateful to Rae Spoon for inviting me to be part of this wonderful project.
Notes About My Art Process
This is the original painting, without the text. It is painted using a combination of materials- acrylic, gouache, and coloured pencil. I used a technique called 'decalcomania' to create the shadow beings in the dark blue background. Decalcomania is a technique I use often, inspired by artists from the surrealist movement like Dorothea Tanning, Max Ernst, Oscar Dominguez and Leonara Carrington. It involves making random patterns using wet paint and a scrunched up cloth. I look carefully at the random shapes and start to see forms and characters emerge. After this I use paint and pencil to define the characters I see.
Similarly, the original 'seed idea and composition' for the drawing comes from a kind of scribble which i pull shapes and ideas out of. Scribble's are like the seeds or the raw compost for all my art. Below you can find an early drawing of the mother bat which Rae asked me to elaborate on. If you look closely you can see the underlying red scribble that helped me to find the imagery out of randomness. Ideas often come quicker if I can put something down on the page with speed and playfulness and then I figure out what to do with the gestures.