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Darkness or Light

This year is turning out to be quite an enigma.

Although many of us are struggling financially; people are choosing to spend a proportion of their available cash on art.

I have been thinking about it and, yes this is one theory, one opinion but it is my blog so, here goes!

Art is seen as a luxury, non-priority item; and I speak mainly of the tangible arts in this case. For some people, art is even an elitist item and a representation of snobbery! Oops!

However, as I mentioned, a surprising number of the public have reached out or responded to aspects of art.

I’m going to take a little exploratory journey of two standpoints: the feel good and the dark, emotive.

The feel good almost speaks for itself. During a time of such difficulty we, complex beings, need to nurture that emotional side. To simply, cheer us up! It’s the factor that sales companies abuse every day of every year and this year has been no different, There has been those that are trying to keep afloat and those who have seen an opportunity to take advantage of.

Personally, I have gone out of my way to make my art even more accessible to as many as possible…why?

Because I understand that our emotional wellbeing is probably more crucial than our physical. We have evolved into such complex, emotional beings, that it is vital to tend to our feelings…whether we understand or value them or not.

Art can connect and does, connect with you on a deeper level than you probably ever realised. When we ‘feel’ something, it overrides everything else. We act impulsively, we make spontaneous decisions, we take greater risks (or less). We override that voice that tells us ‘we don’t really need it’. Before at least one of you starts talking to your screen…yes, I know that is a generalisation, but I am trying to provoke curiosity and not write a dissertation lol.

Something in the art [as explored in my previous blog, more than a pretty picture’] connects with a brightness, lightness…offers a smile, a chuckle a warmth. Believe me…those connections are as vital as the very air we breathe. It sustains us through the most difficult of times and yes…that includes this particular year.

Unlike a fabulously tasty slice of double chocolate cake…sorry, was off for a moment…art is something that you can choose to connect with over and repeatedly...a little like a....

Each moment a slightly different experience, each joy unique.

Now, there is another side of art and it’s one that I have noticed some artists being pulled towards exploring; tentatively. It is art that expresses their darkest moods, blackest thoughts, most desperate of experiences.

Far too quickly these artworks can be scrolled past because they connect with us in uncomfortable ways. They don’t provide that hit of warmth, humour, or smile.

However, they are equally as therapeutic to both the artist and viewer…

Before I explore this more, I want to construct a bridge from one to the other. To know what a ‘good’ feeling feels like…we must have experienced a ‘bad’ one. For dark to exist there must be light. To recognise we are struggling, we must know what to not struggle looks and feels like.

Without knowing personally, the experiences of our own emotional pain and discomfort, we aren’t able to recognise when we feel ok; and ‘ok’ is what every single one of us on this entire planet is trying to achieved, to be (ok).

Isn’t it funny how we do not pause several times a day to think…’oooh I don’t have a headache’?? And yet know immediately when that pain exists!

Now this builds another section of that bridge I was talking about…we tend to notice the bad more easily than the good.

Oh, I feel well today; my shoes are not hurting; my hip isn’t aching; I’m not worried my partner is about to leave me. We do however never need a nudge to think of these things if they are present!

As complex human beings…we still reply upon an extremely basic survival technique. It is named many things but I’m going to explore it under the heading of ‘motivation’.

Generally (yes you can shout at your screen), we are much more motivated away from bad things than we are motivated towards good things,

We are extremely motivated to get well if we become ill but not as good as keeping ourselves well!

If we’re being chased by a barking, growling child…ooops, sorry dog…no issues here lol, we are very motivated to get those unfit legs moving as fast as we can…..until we think we’ve lost it…got away. Then we…stop. Simple as that. There is no reason to keep running, the danger has passed. I guarantee you, if you think you have just heard that dog approaching again…you will run like you are chasing a £20 note!

Which brings me nicely to being motivated towards something…or is it?

Do we chase the £20 note because we are motivated not to lose it or are, we motivated to grab it because it is a gain…a find…a bit of treasure!?

Motivation is a fickle ‘ol thing. It tends to change like the wind and shift back and forth from towards to away from and never lasts particularly long…unless perceived danger persists. It takes A LOT of self determination to keep fit, eat healthy, be positive day after day after month after year. What is usually found hiding underneath all that positivity is those little nuggets of fear, motivation away from things that remind us not to stop.

So…I have started to get you to hopefully recognise the good in the bad…right??

Let’s now apply that to those artists with the inner urge and need to produce, explore their dark feelings, their dark pasts. The difficult present, the torments this year has brought to so many. The torments of such horrific events such as a personal trauma.

There are SO many aspects to this and I shall only explore but a few at this time AND I am going to keep to the link with art…

The first part is much more guessable; artists explore the darkness because it provides a release, a dissipation, a dilution…a pathway to free themselves from internalised pain and shame etc.

Exploring something helps us to understand. When I jabber on at my husband or friends, until I feel I need to apologise for the tired drawn look within their eyes, is because by vocalising it, I am processing it, casting it out from the dark corners and the shadows are no longer as big.

If we explore through our art, we are doing basically the same thing. We are exploring, gaining understanding. Remember the old saying of ‘knowledge is power’?

Ok, so as a very basic overview of why an artist should wish to produce dark art…why on earth would someone else want to poses it, hang it on their wall, look at it, live with it!?

It’s back to the same fundamental reason they may have chosen the bright, warm fuzzy art…it connects.

Remember we are all trying to ne ok? Well, part of being ok is to understand ourselves and feel a sense of being understood. Belonging.

If we can connect with someone else’s’ pain or experience, then we are no longer alone.

It may also be that it [the art] has described part of our own journey without us needing to find it ourselves.

So, which is more beneficial, is brightness positive or darkness positive? Is there a difference? Does it matter?

In a way, it matters only in that they rely upon each other and that they are the closest of twins. They exist for the same reason…to make us whole.

Why wouldn’t you want to spend a little time and money, even during the most financially difficult of times, to be one step nearer to being whole…


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