What we can't speak

we say in silence.





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A BRIEF History

What I am going to take you through is not a new concept. The reality is that artists have been exploring their feelings while living with the challenges that mental health can cause for centuries. Many of these emotions and feelings have helped to create some of the most famous works of art that we know today. 

When you think of an artist who faced mental health challenges one of the most famous that springs to mind is Vincent Van Gogh. Vincent Van Gogh was one of the most influential post-impressionist painters, and went on to influence a lot of modern day artists. His work included 43 self portraits, which were painted during 1885-1889. Only a handful of these self portraits though depict the artist as a painter. During the last year of his self portrait stage, his paintings also included his mutilated ear and other signs of the challenges that he was facing due to his worsening mental health conditions.

If the name Evard Munch doesn’t scream at you perhaps one of his paintings will. His painting of The Scream is one of his most known works and has become iconic within the art world. Evard Munch was known to have suffered with his mental health from an early age. It was his colleague Hans Jaeger who prompted Evard to adopt his style of ‘soul painting’, to paint his emotional and psychological state. It was this ‘soul painting’ that went to develop into the distinctive, iconic style that he is known for today.

There are of course many other artists, not only painters, who have developed a style which used the challenges that they were facing. Poets and songwriters have long been known to use their emotions and life experiences in their work. 

These are only a few examples of people through history who have not been overcome by the life challenges that they have faced, but who have used these events to achieve something wonderful. 

The richness of an artist is the fusion of influences that have shaped his life and work

Fernando Botero


When we look deeper into how you are going to create your portrait it is helpful if you also understand and recognise some of the influences that you have in your life. These will be various things that will have inspired you. 

It may be that you already have some artists that you like the style of, perhaps it is the way they capture the light in their images or the colours that they use. If art isn’t your thing then perhaps it is an author or a poem that you have read. Was it the way that the words flowed or the descriptive nature of the way they wrote?

The television is quite common in most homes. Is there a program or film that stands out? What was it about the film or program that caught your attention?

Perhaps for you it is nature that inspires you. If so is it the weather, the birds or animals, or simply the landscape that surrounds you. The wind in your hair or the sun on your face? A bright day or the looming storm clouds?

Whether we realise it or not our lives are influenced by what we see, feel and hear around us. If the way that we are influenced wasn’t so strong those marketing companies who create all the adverts would be out of a job.


For you first task I want you to think about the influences that you have in your life. As you think of each one write them down on a piece of paper, or in a notebook. Only write one on each page, it will make it easier for the next part.

Once you have written down each one think about what it is about each one that stands out for you. 

If you have written one per page keep them together. You can continue to think about each of your influences and keep adding to the page as you think of more and more reasons.

Only you can allow yourself to explore the person in the mirror.
Only you can coax yourself into a daring adventure to find your untapped potential.

Vironika Tugaleva


To create a portrait of yourself, first you need to understand yourself. I won’t say that the next task will be easy, in fact for most it probably won’t be. It will however be the one part of the course that will possibly help you the most, at least it did for me.

For some of us it is easy for us to say that we are feeling anxious, depressed, sad, down, lonely, happy or excited. What though do those feelings really mean and how do they make us feel. 

How we feel can affect us in different ways. Emotions and feelings can make us feel tired, restless, edgy, calm or peaceful. They can also inspire other thoughts, feeling closed in or trapped, or in a wide open space and free.

These feelings and emotions shape the way that we view ourselves and create the person that we are at that moment.


With your notebook or sheets of paper think about the feelings or emotions that you are feeling. Write them down one to a page just as you did with your influences. Don’t think at this stage how they make you feel.

Once you have written down how you are feeling go through each page or sheet of paper again, writing down how each feeling or emotion makes you feel. This does not need to be done in one go and can be something that you keep returning to.

MY PHOTOGRAPHY on the blog