In this new blog series, we'll be meeting some of the artists who help facilitate Art & Soul's sessions, learning more about their inspirations and how art practice helps them throughout their everyday life. First up, we meet Michelle Hazell, whose work you can view in the photo gallery below.
When did you first become drawn to art, and in what forms did it take?
When I think back to my childhood I realise that I have always been fascinated by the arts, I loved to draw and paint and did so freely. My favourite gifts were pens, pencils and the off cuts of cardboard my nan brought home from the factory where she worked. Gradually on my journey through the education system I lost the passion for art, took a path of design, and eventually became a teacher. It wasn’t until I had my own children and went through a period of questioning my new identity and role that I picked up art supplies again. I began art journalling and went on art retreats and met people who loved art for its expressive qualities. This led to my training as an art psychotherapist though my identity as an artist is equally important to me. I feel the two strands of my practice as an art psychotherapist and artist feed into and resource each other.
What forms of art do you most enjoy practicing with now?
As I mentioned, my main art form is art journalling. I make my own journals, and this feels an important part of the process as each book holds a multitude of emotions and experiences. I see my journals as friends, a safe place to put anything and everything in my life. I don’t journal every day, but I do think about my pages and I try to journal several times per week. Pages evolve in layers, sometimes being finished in one session sometimes taking weeks or even months to finish.
What do you most enjoy about creating art?
I enjoy that my journal can take anything I bring to it, and sometimes that’s not always fun/enjoyable but it feels an important and safe place to put the inevitable ups and downs of life.
How does your art practice help ground you in your everyday life?
This is related to the above question really when I have a strong feeling/experience once its passed one of the first things I think of is my journal. I always work on a double page spread in an A4 journal and I begin by connecting to the page by free writing without censoring my words. This will often not be visible in the final piece.
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to get started on their art journey?
Just start with whatever you have around you, a biro, pencil, printer paper, magazines/junk mail. I started on my kitchen table with a few supplies when my kiddos were napping. Trust the process and if you have a critical voice notice it and carry on anyway. Lastly find a community like Art and Soul where art is appreciated as a resource that we all have access to.