Samantha Humphreys

Art, Photography & Inspiration

Category: Uncategorized

The Art of Wellbeing

Emotional Wheel (2022) Samantha Humphreys

Some while back now I started facilitating daily drawing challenges as a way of both doing something useful in lockdown and providing people with an activity while being indoors. I had to make these sessions appropriate for doing at home with limited resources without the need to buy any special equipment. I posted these sessions on @writtleart on Facebook and wrote about them on this blog.

Two years on, I want to examine what impact art and creativity has on mental health and wellbeing, particularly post pandemic when we have all had a chance to reflect on why nurturing and exercising the mind is as beneficial as watching what we eat and burning fat. After also working with the charity Blesma early in the pandemic running online drawing sessions for their members, I was keen to continue to engage those that don't usually consider themselves 'artists' with art. As a result of this I have started running art and wellbeing sessions at the University College where I work for staff and students. This is currently embedded in an undergraduate cross disciplinary module but will exist on its own from the summer. During the first workshop, we had to create an emotion wheel. This could be made in any way, but it had to show a variety of real emotions for the creator. Participants were encouraged to look up examples, however, creativity soon began resulting in some interesting outcomes with descriptive visuals and others that were more abstract. While most of us used different colours, the creator of Fig 1 took a more abstract and less personal approach using emojis to demonstrate how they were feeling which I think makes a powerful piece of work nonetheless. My own approach, which is a work in progress, a 'revolving' wheel I could call it in fact, was to begin with the main emotions that we expect to feel and around those, add in 'micro-emotions'. I had some feedback asking why the word 'sceptical' is on the 'bad' side of the wheel because surely it's good to be questioning. Maybe my word there should be 'mistrustful' then? I will revisit my wheel soon. Fig 2 is beautifully heavy in bold colours, is very clear on the use of colour association with moods and emotions. This artist also started with the most prominent emotions/feelings and then scratched into the oil pastel rays around the edge demonstrating the outpouring of emotions that radiate from those inner feelings. We will have another session on emotion wheels in April for a longer period as I think its an activity that will develop more naturally if given the time. On Wednesday this week, our session will be What can we learn about ourselves by drawing a tree? Trees feature often in contemporary art, Tacita Dean's Majesty (2006)focuses our attention to the importance of the tree in the landscape by painting out the background. With the devastating deforestation of our planet, artists will no doubt be commenting on how we need to protect trees more than ever. But that's for another day.
Fig 1
Fig 2
DA042815-A85B-4503-B941-F46489407DAE_1_201_a

Aspiring to Matsutake (2020 An element of the second year Developing Ideas in Art and the Environment module on the course I teach on began this semester with an extract from the book The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing. As we (we, as in all of […]

Playtime@London Art Fair

68642B14-4D29-46EE-8E2E-5BD25796BCAE

Smartphone Social Media Performance series (2020)

Thank you to all those who contributed to this project, some were on the wall, some were part of the performance.

Harry Humphreys
Louise Wells
Tamsin Bartlett
Josephine McGuinness
Rebecca McGuinness
Pryle Behrman
Michael Spakowski
Bradley Tearle
Bethany H 
Alex McGuinness
Sonya Bones
Cristian Frias
Gabriele Höhne
Stanislava Andreeva
Sophie Clark
Ana Bruque

Eternal Musings (working title)

Mandalas

Last week I took part in a drawing session at the university I teach at. The session is student led and this particular workshop involved choosing a print out from a list of well known, course relevant and extremely well chosen texts that we had to annotate in any way we pleased in a creative way.

I chose The Time Machine by H.G. Wells Pg 48-49, not a book I have read interestingly enough but the text spoke of hope for the future, new growth and a hint that humanity has not yet destroyed the earth. This, coupled with my interests in mental health, wellbeing and my desire to, indeed, save the planet. I found that I started developing Mandalas on the page.

This piece here is not my first attempt in the drawing session, the idea of the session is that you think as you draw, there is a time limit and I soon realised that I did not have the right tools with me to properly develop so I saw this as a preparation for a more developed piece.

The Mandala has many meanings culturally and in a variety of religions. My interests lay in the circular design of the Mandala, symbolising the concept that everything is connected. I am drawn to the idea of a personal design that holds meaning to the creator and can be instrumental to wellbeing. The use of the Mandala in the time machine piece speaks of both healing our environment and our mental wellbeing which has become increasingly fragile.

Once you get past the mathematical accuracy needed to create a successful Mandala (which I have not yet mastered) the process focuses the mind completely, there is no need for checking emails, social media or any other contemporary distractions that cause our brains to fill to capacity and inevitably, break down.

What if? is a question that has come up in my work before, but what if we could gather all the experts in the fields of : Sustainability, Climate crisis, Mental health and wellbeing to name a few….and using knowledge and science, go back to where we made our biggest mistakes and change it? Un-invent single use plastics and disposeable nappies and anything else clogging up the earth in landfill? Change the laws allowing young people to use social media? Not have social media at all? These are just my initial thoughts, but can you imagine? The time travel thing is just a bit of fun, what I find strange though is that despite watching a lifetime of Doctor Who and having watched time travel stories over the years-it was only when I placed the Mandalas over the text of a book I haven’t read, that I saw a connection between the mental state of humanity and the fragile state of the planet. A friend looked at the piece and she described it as eternal musings, which I think is a good description of what the piece represents.

I will be doing more research and developing this idea….

Playtime

 

I love my job, both of them, and actually I don’t feel like I am working a lot of the time particularly in my job as a practising artist. Because I enjoy my work, of course  do, I’m an artist and like most artists I have often been asked to undertake work for free on the basis that I shouldn’t mind or expect payment because this is basically what I do for fun and besides, it will be good for my cv (great for early career artists or an opportunity for a huge amount of great quality exposure maybe, but it should be the artists choice and never expected) but no other profession has this problem that I am aware of.

In these times of constant connection, it’s easy to blur the line between work time and ‘play’ time whether on purpose or simply because it is possible to do so. I myself am guilty of sending work emails at ridiculous times of day and night, I do this only because I would rather act on an idea or response as it pops into my head rather than risk forgetting, I do not expect a colleague to answer or respond until a reasonable time during working hours! I feel incredibly guilty though if I then receive a response at an ungodly hour or on a non working day.

These are mainly fairly conscious decisions though, but how does our free time turn into a work situation for someone else though? Well, we use our phones all the time, we switch on location and advertise where we are with each smiling hash tagged selfie.

Advertise, that’s what we do, with each post we make. Of course this isn’t a new thing, this has simply replaced advertising on plastic bags when we used to shop anywhere! We would walk away with a lovely clean crisp plastic bag with our goodies in, advertising to everyone where we had made our purchase. We only do that now if we forget our re-useable bag!

The image below is a reproduction on a wooden device of a screenshot provided by Writtle University College, Art and the Environment student Bradley Tearle.

 

 

Nine minutes Past Eight

image

Nine Minutes Past Eight, (2019) Mixed media on plywood.

At nine minutes past eight just a few days ago I asked my friends a question ‘what does coffee mean to you?’ I received mainly one word answers immediately and I have presented them as miniature artworks, some inspired by the friend, others by the response given. As an artist I largely examine the boundaries between the digital and online presence and how it impacts our identity. Here I am focussing on how social media remains a useful tool for socialising and how Facebook, enables immediate social interaction bringing friends together within a digital environment, as coffee, in a physical space.

Troubled Water

IMG_2775

Thinking (2018) Wax on paper

The varied states of mind and elements that contribute to these changes is something I am interested in trying to demonstrate using visual pieces of work. My recent experiments with wax feel to me to be an appropriate medium (albeit quite literal).

The wax solidifies immediately as it hits the surface and becomes unmovable. You can then manipulate the solid wax with heat over and over again, changing the texture and the aesthetic of the piece.

Thanks Dad

image

Thanks Dad for teaching me how to ride a bike, which was a Budgie bike. Thanks for making me chucky eggs and crispy bacon when mum was in hospital having my baby brother. Thanks for all the holidays and taking us on the Catamaran to wales for the day.

My favourite was the bunny…

DSC03711

This is my silver charm bracelet that used to fit me as a child. I used to like looking at it more than wearing it, each charm was bought by my dad when he traveled to a different country. As a baby, I went on the QE2, I can’t remember but the ship charm on the right hand side was bought from that trip and is a tiny replica in silver. I loved it. I’m not sure why I was bought the cat and the dog as I was (and still am ) highly allergic, so not sure what the relevance of those were. I believe I added the silver cross myself when I no longer wore it round my neck (I think the bracelet still fitted me as a teen)

My favourite charm was the rabbit as it had an orange stone for a belly and this fascinated me.

Untitled

goose

Untitled Dry point Etching on Paper