I started a video log to share my experiences and some tips on how I cope with life through art! I hope some of things brings some positivity to you !
I finally have a computer!
This is what luxory feels like.
This is exciting because I can continuously update my blog, my website, and now I can make videos and digital art. I have already made a lot of edits on images thanks to Photoshop, and I just finished an art video, which I'm going to link you to below.
I am excited about the idea of starting a youtube channel ! I am hoping to create an all inclusive channel where other folks can watch for free to learn how to use art to cope with daily life stressors. Art helps me cope with so many aspects of life and I think the world would be a better place if more people had the skills to express themselves through creative means. Hopefully you all will enjoy it ! I will be starting this up soon !
The video below is something I created using audio, color, and shape. I won't divulge too much of the process for this as I want each viewer to get something personal out of it, but it definitley has to do with mental health. Its titled "You never go out with me".
Come out to Personally Speaking
I have a painting in the exhibition at International House Philadelphia, and I would love my supporters to come out and see it! No one has seen this new piece in person yet, so this is exciting for everyone!
***This is the reception, I will be there the whole event!
January 23 – March 17, 2018
Juror: Katherine Kurtz
Tuesday, January 23, 2018 6pm - 8pm***
An exhibition encompassing the experiences of artists
as they explore aspects of their lifetime and creative
practice that reflect social turmoil or respond to
a life well lived. Presented in conjunction with the
UCLA Festival of Preservation at Lightbox Film Center,
which features a variety of films connected by the
underrepresented experiences of marginalized
communities and social injustices they endured.
East Alcove Gallery, International House Philadelphia
3701 Chestnut Street.
Open daily 8am - 10pm.
John J Pron
Sunjin Leaa Lee
Process over product is a teaching strategy art educators often use when instructing children in a classroom setting. The principle is that the process of creating the project or artwork, is much more important and can teach the child more lessons, than simply getting them to create a perfect looking product. Not all children think and learn in the same ways, so this teaching style allows each individual student to thrive in their own way, and if the product or result at the end doesn't quite look the same as the instructors, well, thats ok! We encourage the students to embrace creating the project in the moment, and not overthink. What can you discover simply by mixing the colors right now? How are you using your paintbrush ? Asking questions and engaging the students is crucial.
I've started to realize recently, that this way of thinking is how many artists work in their studios, but I wonder how many people outside of the art community know about it? How would the average art viewers perceptions of art change if they understood that a lot of art is about the act of creating it, rather than the end result?
A lot of artists thoroughly plan out each piece of art, and if it doesn't work out how they intended, they go back to square one and rethink the project and try again. It's a lot like the scientific method. Think of an equation or problem, hypothesize, experiment to try and solve it, and keep trying until you succeed. This method of making art to me, seems very methodical and meticulous, however it is still a process over product way to work. The beginning and end aren't the important pieces to this puzzle. Without the experiments, failures and successes both, not very much would have been learned or achieved! Nothing in life is perfect on the first try, and the same can be said for art! One piece of art that you see now, could have gone through hundreds of transformations until the artist felt it was just right, or that they no longer needed to continue with that piece.
Personally, my work tends to be somewhat of a self discovery in addition to a compositional and conceptual process. The whole process in each piece is cruicial in my work. The first painting in the image above for instance is the finished piece, and as you can see from the image next to it, the piece started out with a completely different intention. The painting as a whole took me over a year to get to the state it is in now. The more I worked on it, the more I explored deeper the aspects that made me have the strongest feelings. I would pause from time to time to reflect on the piece, and explore different ways I could continue. New intentions rise from past intentions , and the painting is a journey for me. The process of art making for so many artists is essential in helping us to figure out and understand the world around us. A piece of art, in many ways, illustrates how that specific artist thinks and wanders through life.
When you look at a finished painting hanging in a gallery, or cafe, try looking at how the artist applied marks on the surface, or what colors were used. How many layers does image seem to have? Can you visibly see the artists thoughts if you really look? When you really engage in a piece of art, you might be surprised with what you find!
So in the last blog post I explained and talked a little about doing simple art projects to break yourself out of those anxious, obsessive moments that I'm sure a lot of us experience. Today, I'm going to elaborate a little bit more on a few specific projects you can do to help yourself! I promise, they are not intimidating and even fun to start!
Before we get into the details of each project, I thought I would share a little information on how to express your emotions through different medias and color usage. When I personally am anxious, I automatically know that I need to work on my inks or watercolors. I go to these specific medias because there's no hesitation in them.
When you put ink on a page, it's there and there's no going back and erasing it. You have to work with it. You must figure out how to make that mark look good overall. It forces you to think creatively and just go. It pulls you out of that mindset of not being able to make a decision because you either let go and draw with the ink and have fun with it, or you just sit there staring at a blank page. You have to concur your fears when playing with ink just to start using it, and that's why I think it is a very therapeutic tool.
With watercolors, you mostly work through layers. It can be very forgiving through all the different techniques you can use, so it's easy to start, but it also allows you to go deeper and deeper with each layer. Every time a layer dries and you go back to work on it, you see the piece improving which can give you more confidence. Working with watercolors personally excites me, and makes me feel like if I can make this and it looks good, I can make more art and I then have the confidence to be more productive and shake those anxieties off.
Another media that might work for you are soft pastels. These are wonderful because they are essentially pigment powder compressed into a stick. If you are unhappy with something you can easily adjust it or take away. It is not intimidating at all and really fun to experiment with. When I teach color to young students, I always use soft pastels to teach color mixing before we use paint. Paint tends to feel really permanent and students hesitate with brushes and paint. With soft pastel I've seen students learn color so fast and they have so much fun with it.
OK that's all I'm going into in with that, if you'd like to learn more about how to express yourself creatively please contact me as I teach workshops and classes on such things!
Now , two projects that will help you shake anxiety and depression in the moment!
Make a Zine!
Zine making is so fun and so easy. You can write and draw about how you are feeling or about something that you know about and want to share. The other day, I had no idea what to do and was really overwhelmed, so I started making a small zine with jellyfish drawings on each page. After I did this my mind cleared up and I felt a little more human.
So, here are the steps for your zine....
1. Fold a sheet of paper into your zine booklet. I have a few images below which explain how to fold your paper!
2. Pick a media to use! You can draw, write, collage, anything you want! This is supposed to be fun and easy for your mind and shouldn't make you think too much.
3. Pick a subject and start working! Don't think too much! Just do ! Create without thinking. Use your instincts! When you are done share your zine with your friends and loved ones! People love zines!
Make your own Mantra Card
Having a hard day? Take some of the statements you have to repeat to yourself and make it visual! Here's how I make my own reminder mantra cards, which are very meditative and simple to start.
1. Get your watercolor paper, crayon , a brush and watercolors set up nicely in front of you.
2. With your crayon ( I reccomend a white crayon) write on the paper your statement however you want. For example, "Self care is important" or "it's ok to ask for help".
3. Pick a color from your watercolor set. Using you brush and water , Make a mark on your paper with that one color. After you make one mark, make another. Keep going! The image doesn't matter. Create something beautful and allow yourself to just go and enjoy the process.
4. When it dries you should see your message through the paint! Add as many layers of watercolor as you want, and when you are done hang it on your wall as a reminder.
There you have it! A few ideas and tools for you to use if you ever need a quick project to calm the mind! Don't forget to keep posted for more blog posts and news on upcoming events and workshops!
As many of you already know, living with mental illness can take a strain on a lot of aspects of your life. Especially art making and being creative! That's why I have come up with a really great system that works for me, so I thought I would share it with you guys in hopes that it can help you all, too.
So here it is in its basic form :
Start simple, move to complex and focus on ONE thing at a time.
If you are anything like me, when you are anxious or depressed ( or both...ugh) you kinda just freeze up, or get overwhelmed by thinking of ALL the projects you have to get done at once. So to tackle this, I have given myself rules. When I'm feeling overwhelmed I only allow myself to work on my smallest, easiest pieces, and I only can focus that.
For example, I might have six large paintings, 12 drawings, 2 zines, 4 pastels and 3 watercolors to finish, but when I'm overwhelmed or anxious I will pick either a zine or a watercolor to work on only. Why those ones ? Because my zines are small and only require ink and a brush, and my watercolors are small and only require watercolor paints and a brush. Simple. Not a lot to prepare and not a lot to think about.
Once I get myself to a point where I'm making marks on the page and focusing on this small piece, most of the time I get really motivated to do more! At that point I either transition to other pieces, or just continue to focus on finishing my simple pieces.
Don't allow yourself to feel guilty if you just aren't able to do more.
Be proud of yourself instead! It's really hard to work on something when you are in the middle of experiencing an anxious or depressive moment! Even if you just came up with the title of your zine, or just did the base color on a painting, that's great!!
Also, try to have some projects going that don't require a complex concept. This can apply to non creative works too! I always have a project going that allows me to just freely make without thought. The concept is simply, "creating this piece soothed my anxiety and calmed me down".
Need some ideas on simple projects to focus on when you get anxious? Check back on soon to read about how I make simple zines, and small simple watercolor paintings!
It is officially my first week working for myself and things are going pretty well so far... I've had a few babysitting gigs and I've organized my life a little bit. I'm starting to realize though (again) how far deep living with a mental illness actually goes.
When I was working a full time job my depression and anxiety made me so exhausted and so anxious that working 40+ hours a week and functioning as an adult was just way too overwhelming. I couldn't seem to manage it all. However, when I am working for myself and not working for anyone else, my anxiety and depression manifests in other ways. They are just always there and sometimes it's really hard to explain to people what or how I'm feeling.
I'm starting to really understand why it is so important for artists, scientists and medical professionals to work together and make people more aware of these issues. I don't know how many times during the past 6 months I've tried to explain why or how I'm struggling and people just look at me blankly.
When you experience depression and/or anxiety and you "come out" to people about it, you get at least one out of a multitude of possible responses. Here are some expamples of responses I've gotten after explaining to people that, "I have depression and anxiety, and things have just been a little hard recently"
"Oh, I was depressed once. Like, I wasn't just SAD, I was really DEPRESSED. It lasted like two weeks it was awful!"
"Well, just try to think positive! Think of all the good things you have in life!"
"Pray about it! God will help."
"Oh, well let me know how you are doing mentally each week, we wouldn't want it to affect your job!"
It's not a malicious thing. No one really ever intends to react in an uneducated or harsh seeming way. It's just that people don't understand what depression actually is or how it affects every aspect of your life. A lot of people are unaware that depression gives you physical symptoms that sometimes you have to really be aware of yourself to even know that it is your mental illness. It takes a really, really long time to fully be aware of how your depression affects you. In my case, I have to even be careful to not let my anxiety and depression play off of each other.
I've been afraid of working for myself for a long time for a lot of different reasons. One of the reasons is my mental illness. But I am tired of trying to make people understand me in uncomfortable environments. I am tired of working with companies and organizations full of people who have no idea about or havnt had any education on mental illness.
Sometimes I think people assume that when a person takes a "mental health day" , that it is just an excuse to be lazy and not go to work that day. I wish people didn't hold this negative stigma. Mental health days should be as accessible as sick days, and yes, I think they should be two separate things..because sometimes I'm vomiting (physical sickness) and sometimes I am so anxious I can not breathe. Do they go hand in hand sometimes? Sure. But having only 3-6 "sick days" per year is absolutely ridiculous for anyone who is a human being.
Anyway , I think by immersing myself in my art, people will start to understand me by simply looking at my art. I hope I can do this and I hope it helps other people.
I hope this blog turns into a page that other people who struggle with mental illness can read, and relate to , and have discussions without fear of people telling them to just "think positive and move on".
We are not victims, but we also do struggle, and it is really a handicap sometimes. Wanting people to understand you is valid, and to those of you reading this that struggle with mental illness, I understand you, and I think you are both valid and real.
SO, since around April of this year I have had a day job at a local Philly preschool. I was teaching a group of five one year olds by myself and the day job just kind of seemed to take over my whole life. I would come home exhausted, and the weekends were encompassed by my body recovering from the week. I found myself still struggling financially and while it was a lot to deal with, I think i was meant to experience all of it. I realized that instead of struggling to survive in someone else's company, I might as well struggle to survive in my own. So I am officially free of a day job come this Friday, and will be a full time artist, focusing on keeping up with my website, blog and selling my artwork and products! So please, be patient with me!! Everything is under construction and will be up and running smoothly by this time next week!
So lots of fun and exciting changes have been happening in the land of Parker Jackson Arts! There is now a Go Fund Me account for my studio practice and there has actually been a lot of activity! Which means lots of artwork has been happening. Always such a positive thing!
As you all probably know, currently I am focusing on the theme of mental illness and ending negative stigmas associated with having a mental illnesses. So some of the products I am selling has to do with that, such as Mantra Cards! Each small watercolor painting has a personal mantra on it that has helped me personally with my struggles with anxiety and depression. They will be copied onto glossy card stock and sold in packages of 24. Hopefully these cards will help others and the repitition of saything these words and phrases will grow each persons confidence.
I am also making pastel paintings of soothing landscapes for people who donate 100 dollars or more. Nature has a way of soothing nerves and calming the mind, so hopefully those who recieve one of these will feel those affects.
Lastly, because I have been working so much on artwork for others, I am finally working on my own paintings and making a bit of progress on them! I am putting images of everything below for you all to check out! Also I am putting in the Go Fund Me link in case anyone is interested in purchasing anything!
PS- Follow Parker Jackson Arts on Facebook and Instagram! I am in the process of figuring out how to link them to this site! :)
Every year in West Philadelphia the local community puts together a Fun A Day art exhibition. The premise is that participants will engage in something they love each day in January and somehow visualize it to share with others. At the beginning of Febuary, everyone gets together and puts on an exhibition showing each other's accomplisments. I usually just go and see what everyone put together, but this year I decided to be apart of it! Winter is typically a rough time for me so as I was thinking about just writing a poem a day and displaying the poetry in a visual format somehow. It's something I know I would be capable of mentally. After I started writing them though I realized that for me, poetry is kind of an self portrait of my mindset at any given time. Writing helped motivate me to paint , so I ended up experimenting with a montage self portrait project.
The project is actually fleshing out to be something I'm really interested in pursuing! I hung the work up as an in progress piece and hung it with an explanation statement, which I'll post below.
"This is a collection of paintings, consisting of personal mantras, original poetry and imagery to make up a personal reflection of myself. I am painting very magnified, and I hid within some textural components my own person mantras that help me cope with my struggles with anxiety. Poetry is something that I can create on a daily basis with little stress or pressure, so I also included in the montage self portrait, my poems with layers of related meanings and words behind them. The poems and mantras make up the skin tone in between each painting. I hope that when these works are completed, the viewers can walk away from this piece with a better understanding of themselves while also feeling connected to others."
I also made a cute little poetry book with affirmations included and handed them out for free at the exhibition. I'm thinking about making poetry books to sell here on my website. Maybe I'll even bind some handmade books with paper I've made myself.
There is definitely more exciting news to come, as I am trying to run an art workshop related to body image and self care, and I have other larger paintings I, working on also. So stay tuned and thanks for checking in !