For this assignment, I want to explore either organic or illustrative work. Organic because I’m fascinated by how intricate and eye catching patterns and shapes can come about through randomness, almost like they were created supernaturally, and illustrative because I don’t consider myself someone who can draw, and would like to push myself.
Personally, dealing with the theme of the seventh month makes me uncomfortable, and as such I would like to focus more on something like mental illness (the idea still seems pretty taboo in our conservative society from my perspective, and it can feel pretty supernatural experiencing these illnesses from both the inside and outside), or perhaps something to do with mythical creatures from around the region.
For this theme, I was thinking along the lines of something more expressive to encompass the feelings of the supernatural. I personally find paranormal activity to be extremely unnerving and creepy, and cannot be exposed to any material of such nature. As such, my chosen colour palette would consist of dark, muted tones, to convey these emotions.
Artist reference: Joan Mitchell
“Joan Mitchell is known for the compositional rhythms, bold coloration, and sweeping gestural brushstrokes of her large and often multi-paneled paintings. Inspired by landscape, nature, and poetry, her intent was not to create a recognisable image, but to convey emotions.” Source
Mitchell used her paintings to convey emotions, and I would like to use this as a point of inspiration for this theme.
Cheim & Read, New York.il on canvas triptych, 13 × 25 inches. Courtesy of
With relation to mental illness, I find that the experience can feel quite supernatural in how the illnesses are experienced by the person affected and the people around them. In many instances, it could feel as if there are supernatural beings within you, manifesting as voices in your head or as another agent of reason altogether, willing you to do things and feel emotions against your own logic.
Artist reference: Bryan Charnley
“Bryan Charnley was a British artist whose popular series, “The Self Portrait Series” captured and reflected the effects of Schizophrenia. Bryan Charnley’s Self Portrait Series intended to portray the ‘humaneness’ of the sufferer and to depict the traumatic experience of the victim through a universally common visual metaphors.” Source
Charnley painted to portray his humanness, but his paintings also send out a disturbing vibe. This juxtaposed with the level-headedness of his corresponding diary entries make him a compelling artist for me. In this series, all of the paintings are oil on canvas and measure 20 x 20 inches.
Bryan Charnley. 23 April 1991.
I had originally had the idea for a series of self portraits from Louis Wain’s series of portraits of cats that changed strangely as he became more and more psychotic. They seemed to show a disintegrating ego. I expected something similar, that is the reliance on a sort of hallucinatory geometry but instead found that I was almost completely unable to concentrate so the painting takes on the crudeness of bad graffiti. I ascribe this to the fact that Depixol strengthens concentration and so its removal means that the power of concentration breaks down. However I would mention that this, as in Louis Wain’s case was not my problem when I originally became ill but seems to have resulted from Depixol dependency. Still on one tablet of Depixol plus sleeping pills. I had come to the conclusion that most people around me had some extra sensory perception ability which gave them access to my mind. In this respect I was like blind man. Hence the crosses on the eyes. They also let me know verbally what they had pi ked up from my thoughts. I was like a dumb man in this respect and hence the cross over the mouth. The crossed out dates are because I was becoming obsessed that I had taken two sittings rather than one on the first self portrait.
Bryan Charnley. 8 June 1991.
The spiders legs seem to be my central condition. I attempted to suggest that they radiated out and became less potent as they departed from my brain. I found that this idea that they sort of dissipated as they removed from the core comforting. The flaming darts of E.S.P. made vocal and right a the point of the birth of the thought too in this case. The white parts represent my thoughts. The triangles meet to produce the discharge of a rational thought that feels like truth and a flaming dart from someone pierces it at inception. The spiders legs represent inhibition, social and otherwise. Is this is truth of my condition? I was to find out otherwise but it was certainly part of the truth.
Reference Images: Christian Sampson
Perhaps the most beautiful of creatures are not those of the land, sea, or sky, but those of our imaginations. These wonderful animals usually originate from folk tales or mythology passed down by mouth through generations of people. I think mythical creatures are absolutely fascinating, and the many differences or quaint similarities between those from around our region can be discovered through this project.
Artist reference: Cathy Zhang
“To appreciate watercolor is to truly embrace its unpredictable nature. The organic movement of color bleeding into each other is intoxicating with each drop. I am naturally drawn to an expressive style because it gives me room to experiment and push my own artistic boundaries.” Source
Watercolour was my favourite medium when I was still doing traditional painting, and I would love to delve into it again. The look of watercolours on paper is calming and yet exciting, and I really appreciate how Zhang manages to add splashes of colour to her animals.