Saturday, October 1, 2016

Guest Post: Cait Potter, on Her Journey as An Artist

Hey! I’m Cait and I’m guest posting on Caroline’s blog! I’m gonna talk about art and writing and what those things mean to me.  I think it would be important to start with why I became an artist and what art means to me because my experiences have definitely shaped me into the artist I am today.

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(CW: self harm)

At the start of last year, about a week before my birthday, I tried to kill myself and I did nearly die. I had a lot of other awful things going on in my life at the time and spending five days in the hospital connected to an IV and heart monitor, being watched 24/7 while I vomited my stomach lining made me feel helpless. It took away any agency I had over my body. One of the AINs assigned to watch me would give me magazines and I would spend hours tracing and drawing the faces of the models in them.  It was then it really clicked for me. I was already a writer and I was also playing around with music but at that moment art really did it for me.  It gave me back some power.  


Since then, art has become my coping method, it’s been my way of dealing with my mental health. Whether I’m hallucinating or if i’m manic or having flashbacks, drawing (and more recently painting) has been something that I can fall back on, in the very least it was a good distraction.


I think this is really important to me, just that experience of drawing and the process of creating a piece of art as a way of coping has helped me get over any comparisons I might make between my art work and others or working through an art block. If I have a pen, if i can use my hands, i know things will be alright.

I think that’s why I could never say that art is just my hobby, it’s more than that, it’s my life, it kept me alive. I’m incredibly serious about it and it’s why I practice as much as I can.


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(A painting I’ve recently created for class)


The past year I’ve been studying a diploma of visual art. It’s stressful, having to create for a deadline and a set criteria but I feel more capable in my field than I did last year. I’ve even noticed a huge improvement in my writing. I’ve learned a lot of stuff that I didn’t have the motivation or energy to teach myself last year, I’ve had the opportunity to explore different mediums and to meet other creative people.


People say you don’t have to go to art school and you don’t! It’s not a requirement but for me it’s sped up that process of learning and it’s opened so many opportunities I wouldn’t of had before. I’ve had access to more expensive equipment and mediums, I’ve had professional critique, I’ve had a lot of encouragement from my teachers, hell! It got me out of my house!


I feel as if I’ve become a lot more focused in my art and writing because of it, instead of focusing on 200 odd different ideas, I can connect, expand and create for a few. Producing more concise series of work.  Something which I carried over into my writing, I’ve been focusing on only one of my novels this year instead of three or four.  


Art and writing go hand in hand for me. One is always influenced by the other, whether I’m illustrating a poem or excerpt I’ve written or I’m writing to something I’ve created visually.  I’ve been wanting to write a book like that actually, to add illustrations wherever I please because it would suit the feel of my stories.  


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Medium wise I love drawing. I will draw and experiment with anything I can get my hands on.  Painting has become an extension of that this year. I never used to like painting before uni, I think I can definitely pin that down as being because I have an amazing, encouraging teacher for that subject. I’ve become really concerned about my process (not in a bad way!) I’ve been focusing on using the energy and passion I bring to my art to improve and to produce as much as I can while concentrating on the way I use colour and the marks that I use in my drawing and painting.
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I’ve been asked about my journals and honestly I think the reason I do it is the same as above, to cope. It helps me organise my thoughts, give them somewhere to go that isn’t just another corner of my brain. I’ve also been asked how I fill mine so quickly and I think, as with everything creativity related, it just took practice. It’s a habit I’ve picked up over the years. I never had that fear of a blank page, all I see is a space that I can fill and make mine. It’s just another space that I can create in and that’s great, even if what I create should be mopped up and thrown out the window.  


I have a lot to say and if I don’t get the chance to say it somewhere it just gets bottled up. And that’s not cool for my mental health.  Better to express everything last thing. And I don’t have to share it with anyone! (except that one guy who stole my notebook -_-)  


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Outside of school, I am working on a zine called Trigger warning! It’s a combination of my art and writing that describes the messiness of mental health and trauma in a very non-linear, sometimes intense way! That’s just been printed and I’m going to be releasing it at the exhibit I will be featuring in at the end of the year!


I am also working on my novel Cassowary, something I will hope to complete during Nanowrimo!


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I’m rambling on but the advice I’d give to other artists (I’m still young and new at this myself!) use reference! It’s not cheating, in fact a lot of great artists use it and it will help you improve in your practice!


Share your art and support other artists! Your work is important at every stage, the work you have created is just as important as the work you’re creating now and the work you will create. Remember that even if your work doesn’t get many views it’s still important! The worth of your art and your writing isn’t determined by how many people see and like it.


Experiment and have fun,  try new mediums, learn from everything, art shouldn’t be a chore, it should be something good you can come back to after a long day.  


Thanks for stickin' round this long ha! You can catch me and my art endeavours on my instagram! https://www.instagram.com/cait_potter/?hl=en





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