Saturday, 12 April 2014

HAVE A PEN NEARBY AND WEAR A HAT! {my art-process and a drawing challenge}

As I begin to work on bigger pieces in my art studio inspired by my year of creative habits and the ongoing project A YEAR OF DOLLS AND ME there are without doubt some distinct themes emerging!  

MOTHERHOOD has reared its head again, it is as big a surprise to me as anybody else that this theme has become present again in this body of work. I was pushed there by the dolls themselves, speaking to me, telling me where to journey next as I worked. Grabbing a pen and writing down what their voices were saying, alongside my thoughts and reactions as I work...I have discovered it is them leading the way as I run to keep up, pen in hand! The writing of their words and the reviewing of the conversation probably the most vital part of this process.

I simply cannot imagine drawing, sewing, painting, or any of my art process without pen and paper next to me. Writing down thoughts, connections, clarifications of what the piece in front of me is saying, obvious next steps...the list in endless! Often my written thoughts come out as 'titles'....these I circle or underline in order to keep them separate to general notes. 

And it's in the immediate writing down that my working process comes to life! It is breathtaking how quickly an amazing connection, a new thought, a next step can fade into the realms of  forgotten without an instant action to seize it. 


And so these notes and scribbled thoughts led me back to MOTHERHOOD. And as I created, I scribbled down the connected memories. I remembered the days before my eldest daughter was diagnosed with SMITH MAGENIS SYNDROME when I watched my life, as if from the sidelines, in exhausted tears. I remembered watching, what I later discovered was sensory processing disorder, her wild reactions to the world and her inability to withstand touch, especially of her head or hair. I revisited in my notes the nightmare of that double-buggy with a tiny Poppy reaching forward to play with Tilly's hair and the hour long meltdowns that would ensue. The weird stares I would receive as strangers noticed the re-organised buggy with newborn in front and the 15 month old wedged in the back....anything to protect that hair from being pulled!

I remember the heart-breaking news of her diagnosis, a self-harming syndrome!! The mothering through a fog of the deepest and darkest depression and then my little boy being born....carrying him for a year in a backpack to keep him safe from the hurled objects and the SMS behaviours. The circle had rolled round, now it was my turn for the hair pulling, that constant torture of his little hands ripping my own hair and the despair as my shoulders ached.  All of this accompanied by the seemingly ever-present soundtrack of screaming and hair-ripping as my oldest child's behaviours escalated in adjoining rooms. These were some of the darkest times of motherhood for me and sweeping up hair was a part of it all! 

And then I catch myself writing WEAR A HAT!! I laugh when I think of it...despair escaped by the simple act of putting on a hat! Sometimes life throws up weird truths like that (especially if you create with a pen next to you!)

Some of the daily doll drawings that explore motherhood.

WEAR A HAT....the words play in my head as I begin work on one of the larger pieces inspired by the doll drawings. Only the mum I am now can flippantly suggest 'Put a hat on!', back then, things were too bleak to be flippant about anything...and at the end of the day Tilly would never have worn a hat anyway!

I am linking this post with some wonderful people this morning, firstly my blogging best-mate Crystal and her Year Of Creative Habits project here and over at her tagboard here. Also I'm taking part in THE DRAWING CHALLENGE and linking with Tammie Lee, this week's host, here the theme this week is HAT. To find out about this challenge visit Rose here and keep an eye on her drawing challenge list on the right side of her blog for the following week's host and prompt and also linking to Paper Saturdays here and Sunday Sketches here.


  1. Oh Janey, your story is heartbreaking, and you have been so brave throughout all the trauma. I always think about the trials motherhood sends us, yours so difficult, that something we look forward to with joy and anticipation often brings sadness and even despair.
    Your drawings are beautiful, and you have my admiration for both the past and for your lovely artwork - visiting from Manon's Paper Saturdays

  2. I just wanted to send you a hug, and say how amazing it is that all your feeling has found an outlet, and been turned into something beautiful.... can you imagine if all that hurt was still inside and you had no way to express it, how sad that would be,, maybe art is healing, I no I feel better when I create, and can't imagine life without it xxx

  3. interesting creations, though I cannot say I understand them as I'm not somebody's mother. I do like your use of different materials.

    visiting from Tammie's blog. hope you have a great day.

  4. holy moly, you have been through things that many mothers never get to experience.
    awesome that you have gotten to a point where you can "now flippantly suggest 'Put a hat on!'" So happy for you.
    i think you are so right, an inspiration can disappear on a breeze if we don't write it down or sketch it.
    I enjoyed seeing all of yours!
    thank you for joining us.

  5. Your story touched me .Besides making art, I also work with people with disabilities. I know how hard it can be for parents. But I do think you are strong because you blog radiates a lot of energy!

  6. Interesting drawings, that is some story.
    Enjoy your Sunday!!

  7. I learned more about SMS, your family dynamics and how you've managed these past few years with Tilly's disorder, sanity, despair and hats. Thank you for sharing Jane, I feel naked, NAKED I say, without a notebook and pen with me or in reach. It started when I was studying journalism at uni and it's evolved into a personal need for clarity and sometimes desperation to retain a thought or shopping list! xoxox

  8. i'm sorry your motherhood was filled with such anxiety and despair. but, it appears you've worked through some of those issues and come out with a better sense of self. your drawings are great. happy sunday~

  9. Lots of healing hugs to you and your family ~ life is not easy, to say the least, sometimes ~ yet your creations seem to help you process the struggles ~ wishing you whatever it is you wish for ~ xoxo

    artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

  10. Ah sensory processing, yep I know that one very well....just had 3 whole days of sensory processing and the havoc and meltdowns it brings in it's wake! It's exhausting. People don't really get it, how can you unless you've experienced it. But just look what you're doing now, look what you're achieving! :) xxx

  11. Oh how simultaneously heart-breaking and uplifting your stories of parenthood are, Jane. There is pain, of course, and despair, but now there is humour and art and creativity - it's a miracle! xxx

  12. love the vibrancy and freedom of this

  13. Your words and artwork are truly inspirational. It's a blend of grief and love. May you have the strength, courage and wisdom to work through your journey as a parent.

  14. Thanks so much for joining us this week and sharing your wonderful talent with us. A very inspiring and motivation post here. Happy SS!

  15. I think using art to work through challenges in life is very therapeutic and expressive- when you need to vent and wonderful for the world - as it gives us all something to relate to as well- I think putting on a hat can be a metaphor as well in your story- as we all wear different hats during the day- some darker than others...saving a brighter hat can help light the way so to speak :)

  16. Janey so great to meet you! I'm happy to have found you here and I look forward to seeing more of your art. You are a truly remarkable artist. I love your work.
    And your family is so lucky to have you my dear! Blessings, Norma, x

  17. Janey they are wonderful! I am a bit late but still Happy Paper Saturdays! Manon xx


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