A Simple Guide to Meditation

What is it?

Meditation is a way to flick that ‘off button’ on our beautiful busy brains. It is simply about taking a moment to breathe, re-focus, and clear your mind.

Why do it?

Meditation can be used to calm anxiety and stress, stop overthinking, and when you’re ready take a moment to reflect. Reflect on where you are in that present moment, practise gratitude for your life and encourage self affirmations.

When can you do it?

You can meditate any time and anywhere, this is often misunderstood. Meditation doesn’t have to be a 20 minutiae sit down in silence sort of deal. It can easily be done whilst your commuting, walking, about to go to sleep or when you have a couple minutes spare out of your busy day.

How to do it?

Step 1 – Sit or lie comfortably. You may even want to invest in a meditation chair or cushion.

Step 2 – Close your eyes, but you don’t have to..

Step 3 – Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.

Step 4 – Try to focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.

Sources recommended:

Apps;

Smiling Mind (Free charity run app)

Oak (Free app for beginners)

Breethe (Free one month trial)

Calm (Fees apply)

If you would like to know more about how our brains respond to meditation, please check out this article!

inlpcenter.org/brains-remarkable-response-to-two-types-of-meditation/

RA Summer Exhibition

I am excited every year to visit the Royal Acadamy of Arts for the annual Summer Exhibition, I love the explosion of colour, culture and different media.

This years theme represented a lot of present issues in today’s society. I love the view through the publics eyes. The summer exhibition is a collective of hundreds of pieces of work from various members of the public artists in the UK.

Points of conversation were Climate change, Politics, Gender / Sexuality and personal stories from the artists. The room of climate change-related artwork had a somewhat bleak atmosphere to it. A mixture of blue, grey, white and black colour tones emphasised the depressive emotion tied to our ever-rising sea levels. I found one sculpture within this room particularly eyecatching, A tiger made entirely out of ‘M&S Teacake’ wrappers. This caught my eye not only with the reflective surface and bold shapes but also took me back to my childhood when I used to eat a teacake every day from my packed lunch. This helped me to personally connect with the statement made by this piece, representing how food packaging is effecting our fellow inhabitants on the planet.

Here are some of my favourite works and why;

This very small statue resonated with me and my partner with whom I attended the exhibition. This non-gender specific piece looked a lot like my partner and I found it beautiful. I loved the boldness of this character being so young and small, made from what seemed to be a delicate material that could easily smash into a thousand pieces, there was certainly something metaphoric about that.

This painting stood out to me amongst the others because of the unique shapes and colour. I found it gorgeous and loved the way the body was portrayed. It inspired me, much like most of the works, to pick up a paintbrush and start creating paintings again.

This piece of work reminded me of a ‘wear’s Wallie?’ graphic. I found it very humorous and a great explanation of human society today, all of the observed obsessions we have, from sexual fetishes to football fans. The detail in this piece of work was immaculate and generated a large number of people to crowd around and spectate, the longer you looked at the artwork, the more you discovered.

I enjoyed the sentiment behind this graphic, I think using the narrative of a young child brought forward the idea that art can be as simple as a pattern, rhythm, shape. This inspired me.

Lee Krasner : Living Colour

Yesterday I visit the Barbican to go and see the inspiring Lee Krasner’s work. I had not discovered her own work before and simply knew of her existence in the art world via her husband, the infamous Jackson Pollock.

I was inspired by her witty attitude and her deep connection to the world, her art and herself. Being an artist in her era was a difficult pursuit. She mentions in an interview in the last 80s that compliments about her artwork were often backhanded such as ” that is such a good painting you wouldn’t know it was painted by a woman!”. Krasner was one of the first abstract artists in New York. As an artist from the age of 14, going against the expectation of her Jewish backgrounds, she was a modern artist post-war, her religious background makes this all the more groundbreaking at the time of hideous prejudice and concentration camps.

“I was a woman, Jewish, a widow. A damn good painter, thank you, and a little too independent”

Krasner lived and breathed her artwork. She saw her art as part of her, part of life, part of everything. This inspired me hugely and made the artwork all the more magical to me.

“Painting is not separate from life, it is one. It is like asking do I want to live and the answer is yes, I paint.”

She refused to develop a signature image as a painter, she believed that would make her work rigid rather than alive. I was amazed by her profound attachment to all of her work and how she wanted it to ebb and flow with the changes of her life and herself, thus making the artwork all the more personal. This to me adds more value than any price tag.

She had a difficult time first getting into the art world and claims she created nothing but grey mass for three years after her father died before something came through.

Little Images

Krasner believed a painting could be large with almost no impact and also small with loads. In the little images series she uses a pallet knife on linen canvas, this gave it much texture and depth which I loved and felt made the artwork feel alive.

Stop and Go

I loved this particular piece because I can clearly see, as an illustrator, how she has interpreted the stop and go the movement and the still.
Stop being represented in the static square shapes, Go being represented in the triangular shapes that represent movement through whichever way it is pointing. The contrast of these two shapes with both deep blacks and bright colours creates texture and further emphasises the life of the painting. Being painted upon a circular plane also helps the image to, as a whole, be static and bring the focus of one’s eye inward. The circular shape also reminded me of a stop sign, referring back to the title of the piece. I found this artwork very clever and is easily one of my favourite in the exhibition.

I found her as a rather inspiring gender-bending artist, playing with the concept of gender helped me see she was way ahead of her time. The self-portraits that she painting in the 1920s when a student, presents herself as both a soft feminine character and a powerful masculine one too. Krasner was a rebellious student, not conforming with the fine art world. This reminds me of myself and my issues with fine art in school.

This leads me to talk about her life drawings. I could see the influence of her idols, Picasso and Mattisse. Through experimenting with cubism and the female form, she used a Conte crayon to represent masculinity throughout. The observed shapes in the female form made me feel empowered and I found the artwork rather feminist, beauty through originality and uniqueness, rather than perfection.

War Service Window Displays

When asked to create some artwork for buildings across New York during the second world war. Krasner didn’t fail to add her unique edge, depicting females as many important roles within the war which was not the norm at the time. I was surprised at how modern and ahead of her time the graphics were. I loved the typography and collage styled imagery. The work represented a protest against the war at the time which is not surprising regarding her Jewish background.

“I am not to be trusted around my old work for any length of time”

This comment by Krasner is relatable to me as an artist as I find with many creatives, as you grow and improve looking back at old work can be frustrating and you can be your own worst critic. When working on a collection Krasner walked into her studio one evening and decided she ‘despised it all’ tearing up her own work throwing it amongst the studio floor. This shows to me how emotionally invested she was in her work.

Several days later, Krasner entered her studio again and found herself inspired by the ripped up artwork sprayed amongst the floor of the studio. She then began to create artwork out of the broken pieces. These came out as organic colour pallete with emotive names such as ‘Burning Candles’ and ‘Shattered Light’.

She then worked on adding colour, I saw in these the influence of Matisse. The mixture of materials helped present layers within the collage paintings.

“With colour one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft”

Mattisse

At the age of 47, Lee Krasner found herself widowed. During her grief, she continued painting to many people’s surprise. Her series of artworks at this time changed dramatically, saying herself that she was massively disturbed by the paintings. I can see the dark phycological forces within the artwork, soft colours against deep blacks. The artwork depicted rather observed body imagery looking distorted, which shadows the death of her husband in a car crash. The names of her artworks at this time were; Birth, Prophecy, Embrace and Three in two. Three in two to me mirrors the fact that there were three people in the car crash that killed Pollock, One being a lover of his that survived and another being a friend who also died.

Night Journeys

In the next few years of Krasners career, she had chronic insomnia, thus meaning she often painted at night. This series had a lot less colour than anything before and represented a similar earth tone pallete that pollock was famous for. The lack of colour screamed her pain to me and really, saddened me. There were strong brush stokes and the artwork she created was much larger scaled than before. Krasner was able to create bigger pieces as she bravely decided to use Pollock’s studio despite the painful memories it held.

The 1960s

In the 60s and the movements at the time, Krasner allowed colour back into her artwork. She never made preparatory sketches and simply let the art come out of her, in order to give the painting a real living feeling.

“I emerged again into the light and colour. I think that’s like life.”

Original State Of Mind – Zhou Li

Zhou Li’s first solo exhibition in the UK entitled, ‘Original State Of Mind’, relates to the unique way that Zhou Li creates art. Throughout her practice, she seeks to question the relationship between herself and her surroundings.

The way people normally view the world is as through a window, from inside out or outside in, but I try to stand in the middle. I see myself from a neutral point of view, and I see the world from a neutral point of view at the same time.

Zhou Li

In her abstract paintings, Li attempts to position herself outside of the usual parameters of perception – a process that is normally seen as subjective or objective. Attempting to access and unhindered way of observing and understanding, she considers both herself and the objects around her as equally valuable to her art. The sensibility of rationality is challenged, by prioritising the phenomenal understanding of life – and her own experience of it.

Zhou says that when she paints she imagines her subject and communicates with it through her painting. This ‘subject’ could be herself, another person, an event or simply an emotion. It can derive a kind of meditation. This subject matter is then consciously re-perceived as an object, reduced to pure experience. This touched me due to my understanding of meditation and the benefits of living in the present moment, escaping the chamber of the mind and the judgement or perception that comes with it.

The artist describes this position as ‘the middle of the window’ suggesting that experience shapes consciousness, and she examines both. Through this approach, Zhou attempts to access ‘original thought’. This inclusive approach relates to the Eastern philosophy of the mind, which underpins this beautiful exhibition.

Machines Do Not Make Us Into Machines – Sarah Morris

On Tuesday I went to see Sarah Morris’s first solo UK show in six years. It was at one of my favourite galleries on Bermondsey street, the White Cube Gallery. I love this gallery because of the architecture and the ability for the art to completely take over the space every time I go there. It is always free so I recommend you pop into this gallery any time you get a moment in London Bridge.

The exhibition featured paintings, films as well as the artists first sculptural work. The exhibition reflects the artists interest in networks, typologies, architecture, language and the city. I visit this exhibition because not only does it relate to my dissertation subject, It also is a great reflection of the fact art is transforming into something different now. Contemporary art has the ability to have entirely new meanings and look completely new due to technology advances.

Displaying an architecture of colourful and abstract forms, Morris’s paintings play on the viewers’ sense of visual recognition. She incorporates a wide range of references, from the graphic identity of multinational corporations and the structure of urban transport systems (for example the TFL tube map for London) to the iconography of maps, GPS technology, as well as the movement of people within urban areas.

Her new series of ‘Sound Graph’ paintings continue to utilize the language of American abstraction (of minimalism and pop) while their forms are derived from the artist’s sound files, using a speech from audio recordings as a starting point for the compositions.
Featuring hard-edged geometric shapes, the compositions in the paintings progress in patterns that appear to fluctuate across the canvas, creating a sense of volumetric increase and decline, like a visual analogy of coding.

While derived from fragments of conversation, Morris’s paintings also reference concrete elements: digital files, the lights, the information on bar charts and flow diagrams or structures of mapping. This is her way of highlighting that language is merely a construct, particularly in relation to art in our ‘post-truth’ age, they connect with the history of abstraction while remaining conceptual in their production process. Language becomes image, evidence of the impossibility of painting ever being truly abstract.

Ellesse Inspired Photoshoot – 18th May

Coming in on a Saturday was difficult to start with, this is because I work late night shifts over the weekend for my part-time work. However, I got up at 7 am and got into uni with my model (Lucas Pacary, who is signed to contact Model Agency and an assistant at Pause Magazine). I was proud of myself for getting up and pushing myself to work on the shoot all day before going back to work that evening. 

We initially had a dilemma with lighting. It’s laughable looking back now but did stress me out at the time. Due to CLR (central loan resources) being closed at university on a Saturday, it meant that we did not have enough good lighting for portrait shots. We had rented out some led coloured lights which I just LOVE and think help to make anything look sexy and artistic. Bright white backing lights were needed in order to get the best quality photos. So, after some quick improvisation and asking people we knew in the other degrees for help. We managed to get some lighting through a friend of Janes. 

Waiting for the lighting to come took a couple of hours, and although we had the room booked from 9 am till 6 pm. I began to get frustrated with my peers as we had wasted two hours not taking any photos yet. I started to work on some still life photos before we had the right lighting just to calm my anxiety about not getting enough done really. Whether these will be used is unlikely. 

The experience for me was new and exciting. I found it very fun working creatively with others, I also found it frustrating too. Keiran, our group leader, has an amazing eye for photography and I very much have faith in her creative talent. However, I had to adapt myself a little being the control freak that I am and it was a learning curve for me to take a back seat and let all the final decisions be made by someone else. 

Finding that everything was quite under control with the main shoot I felt wasted by just sitting in the sidelines watching. So, for this reason, I suggested to Kieran that I and a few others that didn’t have much to do tried to work on some still life shots at the same time, in order to produce more content in the time we had. 

My Photoshoot For Ellese via PXL Agency

On Thursday I decided to curate a photo shoot alone in order to get some much-needed content out to the website team, in order to be on the Instagram and website. I originally wanted to curate a photoshoot that was inspired by the brilliant tennis clothing Ellesse has made. Here is the mood board for that, I had booked a tennis court also in a park near where I live.

I really like this concept so now that the sun is shining I may try to do this shoot another time.

Unfortunately, the weather was against me. Also after a group discussion about our campaign and overall shared ideas for the class production of content. We decided to stick to just one solid theme, in order to make it more consistent and understandable for our consumers. The theme being self-care and having the main focus of a yoga shoot. This meant I ought to change up my photoshoot. This is the second mood board I created.

I chose to work with my friend and model Rhea Parsons Daley. This is not only because I know that she is photogenic, but also her mum is a yoga therapist, so I expected her to know a few things that would help me out – I was wrong. I also felt she was a good model due to her large online following, knowing that she would promote PXL and my work to her 11,500 followers via Instagram.

I no longer had a location to shoot so, therefore, had to create an alternative option. I searched up any abandoned warehouses around my area and thought these would be good rustic places in which to shoot. Due to the heavy wet weather on the day, I decided I would just try to create a studio of my own at home. I found all the bedsheets, lights, cameras, props and ducktape I could then I got to work.

I blacked out all of my kitchen windows using a card, black pillowcases and blankets. I then created my own coloured lights using acetate, coloured pens and bright spotlights. This was an extreme fire hazard I won’t lie, but I managed to shoot with no fires. I found a large piece of gorgeous organic cotton, my dad had used it previously to protect space when he was painting. This meant that it had interesting paint splatters upon it which I thought would add texture and depth to the shoot. I hung this using bamboo sticks, clothing pegs and PURE HOPE.

When the model finally arrived after being a few hours late, which is rather a normal industry problem anyway. I decided to show her the different shoots, poses and styles I had planned. She wasn’t as flexible as I would have liked and to be honest the shoot really didn’t go as well as I had hoped it would. However, I am proud that I was the first in the class to create any new fashion related content for PXL Agency and felt it taught me some valuable lessons for the main shoot we have planned on Saturday.

I have contacted the Branding team swell ad the Website and PR team to edit and add some awesome graphics to my photos. I’m hoping this will amp up the images.

Here are some of my favourite photos from the shoot:

Tracey Emin Exhibition

I was very excited to attend the Tracey Emin exhibition last week. I was also thrilled to hear that it was free, Tracey Emin is one of my all-time favourite modern artists and in my opinion, one you the best of the YBA’s. I resonate with her fine art a lot as it has such a raw depiction of the emotions of being a modern woman. Her creative confidence astounds me and inspires me to push myself into my creative work and make it so much more personal and attached to who I am as a person.

Her brutally honest and somewhat depressing exhibition absolutely blew me away. It is such a strong representation of the female struggle and is a very feminist statement in today’s world. Her exhibition presented her struggle through abortion in the late 90s, her mothers passing and her own personal heartbreak after a relationship ended.

There was an opportunity to watch a short documentary she wrote about her struggles when having an abortion. This literally brought me to tears. I, fortunately, have never had to experience something like that before, but I have to accept as a young woman that one day, I might. After seeing this I feel I have a real understanding of the painful procedure and decision making, one that I have not ever really thought about before. It brings me great passion about helping out my sisters in this world and helping those who live in parts of the world where, upsettingly, woman aren’t allowed to make these choices on their own accord.

Emin’s way of painting is one I find extremely beautiful and is something that I have drawn inspiration from over the years for my own illustration. I love the use of soft colours throughout, contrasting with bold strokes of dark paint in some of those more emotional paintings. I find her depiction of the human form similar to that of the Egon Schiele, by being more exaggerated and honest about what our bodies look like, rather than copying centuries of art that present a depiction of a woman, lying naked and perfect looking, surprisingly clean-shaven, often with a rag of cloth alone in a wood.. like any right-minded woman would do that! A bit of a male gaze don’t you think?

Moving forward in my project I am going to try to put that same ‘fire’ and passion into my work that I believe Tracey Emin does so brilliantly.

Sometimes I have the most amazing moments of clarity. Razor sharp. At these times I can see how fucking stupid I am.

Tracey Emin