Interview with artist Alana Bosgra

Baggage
Baggage

Thank you so much to Alana Bosgra for this interview about art and life. She is launching her brand new website and online store today, and so I wanted to spread the word by posting this interview on the same day. Congratulations Lani!!!

Why are you passionate about art and why do you think it is important?

I am a visual person so I am drawn to colour and drawn to interesting looking things. On that level I am passionate about art because it’s beautiful. I am also passionate about communicating a story and art is a platform to do that.

What inspires your art and what does your drawing process look like from idea to finished piece?

Life inspires it. I overhear parts of conversations and sometimes write down random phrases I think are cool and I have a huge note on my iphone that I always add to. It is full of weird bits of writing to build ideas from later. When I actually start a drawing I first need to really connect with the concept. Then I don’t think too much and just do very quick outlines. I never plan the colour scheme or details beforehand it just happens as I go.

You Can't Be Useful If You Aren't Sharpened
You Can’t Be Useful If You Aren’t Sharpened
What do you love most about working with pencil and black biro?

I think it gives me that sense of control; somewhat. A painting needs a lot more pre-planning to work out, same with most other mediums. With pencil and pen I can stuff up and easily change what I was doing and make up bits and pieces as I go and it’s no drama. It feels less final. I love the black to contrast the colour as well.

What are your favourite colours of Prismacolor pencils?

Any pastel blues are gorgeous, the reds and oranges are beautiful, and yeah in general I guess pastel shades are my fave! But in particular there is a light blue, I don’t know the exact name, that I go through so much. It’s like a powder blue, ahh so nice.

You’ve mentioned in the past that you use art as your therapist. How does art help you in your life?

It gives me an outlet to have a decent vent about my experiences. It is an abstract way to say what I might otherwise say in a therapist’s office. It is what I might say to a friend but to give my friends a day off listening to me – because I know it can be heavy – I use art to get it all out.

The Pencil Speaks
The Pencil Speaks
You share your story, your thoughts and emotions through art. How do you find the courage to share them?

Honestly, it isn’t that I have courage to share stuff like that. To me it is absurd not to share that stuff. I probably do run the risk of being an over sharer, let’s be honest, the moment anything happens to me I tend to inform literally all of the people in my life I love and then continually I need to debrief because I am dramatic – but one of the things I aim to do in life is be an open book. Sometimes it hurts when people read a few pages and put me back on the shelf but I feel like I was designed to be open and honest even in crappy things. It’s not brave.

Have you ever received negative responses to your art? How do you deal with them?

People are usually fairly kind to my face but I used to show my art in churches and someone once told me that my work was “a little too creepy” for church settings. Also, people often tell me that the only good art is realistic art and I am like oh nooooooo you didn’t. Nah, I have a pretty thick skin about my art though. Not everyone likes art; people won’t like my style, that’s cool with me. I like what I do, luckily.

You’re open about your struggles which encourages others to be open with theirs. What is your biggest struggle in life and what advice do you have to others who struggle with the same thing?

I am realising my single biggest struggle is battling this disabling anxiety I have. It’s unrelated to things that happen, and it only exists in my head. It’s like I have a piece of string connecting me to the outside world/reality and sometimes that string frays so badly I feel like it might snap and so I freak out. I circle the same invisible unnecessary existential worries constantly when this gets the better of me and I’m aware of the irrationality but I still end up in such a state it is hard to pull myself out of it.

My advice to others that struggle through mental health issues is to be kind to yourself through it – don’t set your expectations of yourself too high. You are worthy of love even at your most irrational or weakest moments. Bad days happen, doesn’t mean it’s a bad life.

I'm Still Trying To Find My Feet
I’m Still Trying To Find My Feet
Who is your favourite artist and what is your favourite artwork?

Salvador Dali. Ah, so many of his works! Hard to choose just one. I probably will go with one of his best known, ‘The Persistence of Memory.’ Those melting clocks!

What movie, song and book have had the biggest impact on your life and why?

Movie: Probably Alice in Wonderland – the cartoon version. I didn’t even see this until I was maybe 19 but I love the imagery and I identify with Alice feeling as though she somewhat makes sense and her frustration with the characters who don’t seem to listen or understand her. There is this underlying sense of fear in Alice in Wonderland – fear of unknown, fear of the unfamiliar, feeling like you don’t know who you are or where you fit, and I connect with that and at the same time love the hilarious nonsense of it.

Book: Probably be the Catcher in The Rye actually. I think I re-read it a bunch of times when I was about 15 and at that time Holden’s character resonated so much with me in terms of getting lost in your mind and finding so much about others to be fake. I read it now and it makes me sad that someone is so unhappy and lost but at the time I first read it I felt like somehow he was reflecting how I felt.

Song: Where Is My Mind by The Pixies (this is the ending song in Fight Club which I also love and this song hit me right in the emotions and it’s good for sad or reflective moods). Also anything by Tame Impala is a favourite.

Do you have a life motto that you live by or a favourite quote that speaks to you?

There is a poem called the Desiderata which a friend of mine once showed me and it’s pretty long but full of really, really common sense advice. My favourite part of it is good if you’re feeling a bit ready to give up: “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

What do you want to be known/remembered for?

Being someone who makes others feel comfortable to be themselves and being someone who helps others feel understood. Oh, and also to be remembered as an artist would be BRILL.:)

What is your dream as an artist?

To keep using art as a means of communication and keep being myself because art is what I love the most.

The Inescapable Desire to Be Elsewhere And Live In A Vacuum
The Inescapable Desire to Be Elsewhere And Live In A Vacuum
What is your message to the world?

Life is too short to focus only on yourself, I think that’s what I would love everyone to see. You are important but you also have things to offer that people around you need. It’s not even my message, pretty sure I kind of got that off Jesus. But still relevant. Love others from the depths of who you are.

What advice do you have for the beginning artist?

Something my community development lecturer recently said was this: ‘Anything that is worth doing, is worth doing badly the first time.’

No-one ever starts off great. Don’t be afraid of 1000 “bad” pieces of art. Start somewhere and improve on your starting point.

* * *

Local Artist Hosts Exhibition At Mango Tree Cafe to Promote Online Launch 

Artist Alana Bosgra, aged 22, better known by her art moniker “Lani,” is hosting an exhibition at the Mango Tree Café on Jane Street in West End.

Lani has been a professional artist for the past four years, two of which were spent travelling to every state of Australia and sharing her unique art in schools and community groups.

Lani uses her colourful, whimsical style of art as a vehicle to promote discussion around mental health, particularly highlighting issues such as depression and anxiety. Using her personal experiences and thoughts to drive her creative process, Lani focuses heavily on her belief that there is hope no matter what circumstance or challenge arises in life.  

Lani is currently completing a social science degree and aims to link her therapeutic knowledge with her arts practice, with plans to study art therapy.

Lani’s art has been described as reminding others of Alice in Wonderland or surrealist themes seen in the works of Salvador Dali.

Lani published an illustrated collection as a book in 2015 with a focus on resilience and using art to guide the conversation around overcoming challenges. The book will be available for purchase on the exhibition night. 

The event, held at the Mango Tree Café at 91 Jane Street on the 5th August starting at 6pm, promises to be a celebration of Lani’s art journey and new step into the online market. There will be a chance to win a framed A3 original drawing as well as opportunities to take home Lani’s watercolour works.

“I love using art, not just as an enjoyable activity, but as a way to connect to something bigger than myself,” Lani said. “Art should be accessible to everyone, and should celebrated in the community.” 

For more info contact: alanabosgra@gmail.com or see Lani’s art at facebook.com/lanisarty

Lani’s new online store is accessible at lanisarty.squarespace.com.

Be sure to check it out!

Supporting a creative project

I like to donate to a Kickstarter project once a year to help support people’s dreams and creativity.

This year I discovered Girl Noticed through their blog and straight away I was on board with their vision. All about valuing girls.

Love art and love using it for others.

Check out the project and if you like what it’s about, donate to keep it going.

Girl Noticed Nationwide Mural Project

Supporting an amazing artist: Alana Bosgra

Wonderland
Wonderland

This is the artist who inspired me to get back into drawing and to draw my stories. So thankful!

Check her out!!!

Local Artist Hosts Exhibition At Mango Tree Cafe to Promote Online Launch 

Artist Alana Bosgra, aged 22, better known by her art moniker “Lani,” is hosting an exhibition at the Mango Tree Café on Jane Street in West End.

Lani has been a professional artist for the past four years, two of which were spent travelling to every state of Australia and sharing her unique art in schools and community groups.

Lani uses her colourful, whimsical style of art as a vehicle to promote discussion around mental health, particularly highlighting issues such as depression and anxiety. Using her personal experiences and thoughts to drive her creative process, Lani focuses heavily on her belief that there is hope no matter what circumstance or challenge arises in life.  

Lani is currently completing a social science degree and aims to link her therapeutic knowledge with her arts practice, with plans to study art therapy.

Lani’s art has been described as reminding others of Alice in Wonderland or surrealist themes seen in the works of Salvador Dali.

Lani published an illustrated collection as a book in 2015 with a focus on resilience and using art to guide the conversation around overcoming challenges. The book will be available for purchase on the exhibition night. 

The event, held at the Mango Tree Café at 91 Jane Street on the 5th August starting at 6pm, promises to be a celebration of Lani’s art journey and new step into the online market. There will be a chance to win a framed A3 original drawing as well as opportunities to take home Lani’s watercolour works.

“I love using art, not just as an enjoyable activity, but as a way to connect to something bigger than myself,” Lani said. “Art should be accessible to everyone, and should celebrated in the community.” 

For more info contact: alanabosgra@gmail.com or see Lani’s art at facebook.com/lanisarty

Lani’s new online store is accessible at lanisarty.squarespace.com

The Pencil Speaks
The Pencil Speaks

Drawing a mandala

Mandala draft

Here’s another work-in-progress and a behind-the-scenes look at my drawing process.

This was inspired by a writing exercise in the book One Year to a Writing Life. I had to choose an image to place in the central circle and let it guide as to what I filled the big circle with.

Usually I draw an outline in grey lead then go over it in black fineliner. On this picture I’ve also written down the colours I’ll use for some of it. I’ll rub out the grey lead then start colouring it with my Prismacolor pencils.

I don’t always do an outline. Sometimes I just go right in with the pencils with an idea of what I’m drawing and see what comes out.

Hold your own pain

Carry your own pain work in progress

I’ve got a few drawings on the go at the moment.

This work-in-progress is about holding your own pain. We are only responsible for dealing with our own pain. We can be there for others but we cannot deal with their pain for them. That’s not our job. That’s theirs.

We can want to take their pain away from them and we can feel pain with them, but their pain belongs to them. So let go of everyone else’s box of pain thinking that we have to fix everything.

Take responsibility for our own pain and feel empathy for everyone else.

Art and Writing Resources

Hey all,

Just thought I’d share a few fun resources I’ve found.

If you like Elizabeth Gilbert and her book Big Magic, then check out her Creativity Workshop at Udemy. At the moment it is only $30 as there is 40% off.

Also at Udemy, there is an Art Therapy Course for $15.

Check out other courses by searching for any area you’re interested in.

If you want to write your life story and publish it as an ebook and/or print book, The Life Writer makes this as easy as possible. With over 400 questions divided into life stages, you simply answer the questions, add your own sections/questions to answer, and add photos to create your book.

Even if you don’t structure the book the way they have it set it out, you can use the questions to prompt memories and story writing to craft your book. For $99 you get access to the questions and the software to create the book.

If you’re only interested in the questions to help you write your life story, check out Family Search. It has 52 questions for you to answer that are freely available.

Hope these help and inspire you to write and create.

Are there any resources that you’ve found helpful?

Art: No Entry

No Entry

June 2016, Prismacolor on A3 cartridge paper

This is another picture inspired by Christa Black Gifford’s Heart Made Whole.

Christa wrote that she used to see her heart as an enemy that always worked against her. That’s exactly how I saw my heart. I didn’t trust it because I always thought it betrayed me and hurt me. I wanted nothing to do with it and tried to shut it out. My heart was a no-go zone.

But God gave us a heart that was originally pure and whole. It becomes wounded and feels pain but the heart itself is a good thing. When we don’t think it is a good thing, we condemn it and deny it.

I condemned and denied my heart because I felt guilty for having a wounded heart. But Heart Made Whole showed me that you can be a Christian and have a broken heart. There is no shame in having a broken heart or feeling pain.

It showed me that emotions aren’t bad. They’re important because they reveal the condition of the heart. It also showed me that pain isn’t bad. It tells us there is a problem that is hurting us and we need to deal with it or it will keep hurting us.

So I need to listen to my heart and see it as my friend instead of my enemy. I need to identify my emotions and express them instead of hate them and ignore them. I need to take my heart to God instead of hide it from him because it’s not my job to heal my heart. Only he can heal the heart he created.

Art: Heart at War

Heart at War – The cause of self-hatred
Heart at War – The cause of self-hatred

10th June 2016, Prismacolor on A3 cartridge paper

This picture was inspired by a theory about the heart in Christa Black Gifford’s book Heart Made Whole. The theory comes from Andrew Miller, a marriage and family therapist. He suggests that that there are three parts to the heart.

The emotional heart – This is the part of the heart that feels. We can condemn this part of our heart when we feel pain and other negative feelings. We can stifle it and shame it instead of try to understand it and find out why it feels the way it does. It eventually shuts down when it can’t cope with the pain.

The guardian heart – This is the part of the heart that protects us. It wants to keep us safe and will do this however it can. It’s always alert, looking for enemies. It keeps pain away from our consciousness because it thinks it will overwhelm us and we won’t be able to function. Some of the ways it protects itself include: going with the flow to be accepted, fitting into crowds easily, performance, people-pleasing, and perfectionism. The guardian heart is well developed when the emotional heart is wounded. It works tirelessly and is exhausted.

The function heart – This is the part of the heart that makes decisions. It governs how we spend our time and who we spend it with. It governs what we do. When it’s disconnected from the rest of the heart, it can strive to perform and do everything out of duty. Its goal is to keep moving us forward. It denies emotional pain to keep us functioning.

Self-hatred comes when the heart is at war with itself, when the heart is disconnected, when the heart is not whole. We can never have peace when our heart is divided. We need to listen to each part of the heart and see how they are going.

When I checked how my heart was going, these were the pictures I got for each part:

Emotional heart – I saw someone running around screaming and tearing things. She makes no sense, she’s just going crazy. She’s yelling but no-one can hear her.

Guardian heart – I saw someone standing like a statue. Stony face, serious, holding a spear. She’s scares people away. She doesn’t want anyone to go near the screaming emotional heart. She tells it to calm down and shut up.

Function heart – I saw a little girl in her bedroom spreading papers on the floor. She’s ordering them. She smiles as she sings to herself. Then she has a moment of sadness but she gets up, goes to her dresser and puts make-up on. She’s making things look neat and pretty.

And there’s the war: the emotional heart wants to be heard but the guardian heart shuts it out and the function heart pretends everything is fine.

I need to let all parts of my heart speak freely. My heart needs to be cared for. It needs to be made whole.

Working on a colouring book

Colouring book

Working on my new project: a colouring book about self-discovery through self-expression.

I’ll share some of my art with the stories behind them. There’ll be prompts for how people can examine their own lives and express themselves through colouring in the pictures.

I hope it’s as fun and illuminating for others as it has been (and is) for me.

Colouring book 2

Colouring book 3

Art: Boredom turned into emotion

Boredom turned into emotion
Boredom turned into emotion – Naming emotion

27th May 2016, Prismacolor on A3 cartridge paper

I drew this picture out of boredom. Sometimes I get into these moods of intense boredom with life. It’s pure melancholy and apathy. It’s frustrating and miserable. I tried to express it on paper.

I started with a pink curly line to represent skin and being human. Then I placed a black scar over it for darkness. I added beige to represent blandness and boredom. I added orange for the feeling of blah, and purple for the unknown and not knowing how to get past this stupid stage of life.

Then over the top of this mixed up background, the blue symbols just came out. A ladder to try to get past this. Out of this. A magnifying glass so I could try to inspect what I was feeling because I didn’t understand why I was in this place or what it was or how to move past it. A room because it felt like I was trapped in one and I just wanted to be left alone in my room. A door, a closed one because I didn’t want anyone to talk to me. I didn’t want to talk.

A seesaw because my emotions were all out of whack. First I was excited and then I was dark and depressed. It’s confusing. I can’t get a handle of them. And I felt sorry for people to have to deal with them. A set of scales to represent how to get balance because I went from one extreme to the other. It’s my psychology. I couldn’t get a handle of myself. It’s life. Not understanding life and how to do it. It’s feeling bad for being so bored and apathetic.

Then all the words came out on top too as I named the emotions I was feeling which is an assignment my psychologist gave me.

I’m trying to learn how to identify my feelings, name them, and not feel bad about them.

So it’s a mess but I’m also learning how to be okay with the truth of mess and to be honest about how I feel.