Stephen the Seagull is where this collection began. Stephen is grumpy, and that’s okay. He doesn’t think he should hide his feelings because they might make other people uncomfortable. Stephen says “It’s Okay to express how you feel.”
I was going through some really tough life stuff, and the thought of forcing myself to be positive and paint bright happy birds was exhausting. I went looking for a really grumpy bird, something that would express how I was feeling, and when I landed on Stephen, it was just meant to be. The muted tones, greys and darks are all an expression of anger and frustration, and I just poured it into the painting. Funnily enough, I felt a lot better afterwards.
It can be hard to express difficult feelings, particularly if you’ve ever been told that you should present a face of “I’m fine” to the world all the time and deal with your problems in private. That can be really isolating. I resonate with Stephen, because he doesn’t have any such worries. He doesn’t stop to think about whether he *should* express his feelings, he just does.
It’s no secret that when you embrace how you are feeling instead of trying to ignore it, the difficult feelings don’t seem quite so bad for as long. Sharing your feelings with people can be intimidating, but the people who love you want to help you. Stephen’s challenge to you is: “Are you embracing and expressing how you’re really feeling right now?”
Stephen is painted in acrylic, india ink, and charcoal, on canvas collaged with coloured papers and wax pastels. He measures 30 x 22 x 1.3 cm. Initially, there will be 6 x 8 inch prints.
You can hear me talking about Stephen here: