Our recent competition ‘My Life in Lockdown’ prompted an astonishing display of creative talent in our community. The judges were hugely impressed by the range of skills and the quality of the work submitted, mostly by amateur artists.
We asked some of the competitors to tell us what inspires their creativity and what their art means to them. Jamie Sollis, whose satirical cartoon below was highly commended, started drawing in 2016 at a time of turmoil, after a break of 30 years. He says that art helps him to relax and to reconnect with his childhood.
I come from an artistic family. We have generations of relatives with a talent for expressing themselves on paper and as a young child I was like that too. The problem was in my family the artistic role was already filled. I had another role carved out for me, so was discouraged and told I was not good enough. Naturally, I told myself ‘what’s the point?’. This affected me greatly, not just my art, but it seeped into every aspect of my life. I actually believed I couldn't draw and didn't touch a pencil for thirty years.
Fast forward to 2016 when I lost both my parents suddenly to cancer. This sent me into a downward spiral of depression. I wouldn't talk to anyone and the stress of it all caused me to lose my hair. I felt completely lost.
My wife stepped in, she's a psychotherapist and she could see the turmoil I was in. We did nothing but talk and talk for months. She eventually suggested that I try to reconnect to the child that I was, the child that was still with me; and a way in which I could do that was through the art I so loved, thirty years before......
It was a strange progression, as holding that first sketch pad felt as if I'd rewound back to when I put the pencil down as a hurt child. The childlike sketches were full of emotion, they were cries of loneliness and hurt. Looking back through them now, I see how all my childhood was being unravelled, and with each drawing came new self-awareness, hope and peace.
I had found my love of art again, my hair grew back and I began to make peace with my past. I drew every day, sometimes completely losing myself in the drawing. My wife and kids would talk to me, but I was completely engrossed in that moment and would not hear them until one of the kids poked me. I began to talk to people again via social media and with my wife's encouragement, I started the Crediton History Facebook page.
Drawing gave me confidence and allowed me to live in an uncomplicated moment.
Then, as we all know, Covid 19 struck and the country went into lockdown. Being on immunosuppressant medication my anxiety levels began to rise and my fear for the future escalated. Just like before, I threw myself into my art as a form of therapy. I drew film stars, notable locals, cartoon pets, well over forty pieces of artwork.
I noticed on Facebook the ‘My Life in Lockdown’ competition being advertised. I discounted the idea of entering right away, to enter one of my pieces of art into a competition would be a challenge. To have people look at my work and judge it was a throwback to my childhood, and the ‘not good enough’ gremlin emerged.
A few days later a little voice said ‘you are good enough’, so I very tentatively started sketching a cartoon poster. I had no expectations of winning or even getting a mention, but to my surprise, I was given some really great feedback, which I'm really pleased with.
During lockdown, I drew most days. Every pencil stroke acted like a vent to draw away life’s stresses, the paper and pencils were but a vessel for me to express how I felt.
I have also set up my own Instagram https://www.instagram.com/sollisartwork/ where people can view some of my work and join me in a continuing journey whilst I experiment with different styles, mediums and techniques that I have taught myself.
The moral of this blog ..........
Never let anyone tell you that you are not good enough, believe in yourself because we all have talents, sometimes others just don't appreciate them enough, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.