Phantasmagoria

My most recent series entitled "Phantasmagoria" was inspired by my struggles with insomnia during the past four months. I've always been an insomniac, but would waste time focusing on the exhaustion and complaining about it instead of seeing the beauty in it. I wanted to find a way to visually express what words could not but luckily for me, I found one word that was a summation of what I was seeing/experiencing. I am one of those people who get words of the day sent to their email in order to strengthen my vocabulary as well as having the feeling that I am learning something new everyday. When I was trying to find a concept for my series artwork, I stumbled across the word 'Phantasmagoria' in my email. Phantasmagoria (noun): A dreamlike state in which images both real or imagined blur together. I'm unsure if any of my supporters have ever experienced insomnia but I'm pretty sure everyone has been exhausted to a point of not knowing what is or what isn't anymore. If not, I can tell you that each day I went without sleep, I felt like a machine constantly running but not being all the way there.


If you have followed my series work, you know that I try not to run away from the things that cause me mental anguish. I embrace them, because I know that what I'm going through is simply happening through me and not to me. Every experience in my life is inspiring to me, I create from pain, happiness, sadness, etc. Every emotion is a paint stroke for me!


The first piece entitled, "Abeamus" translates to 'let's go' in Latin.


Abeamus, 16x20, acrylic on canvas

I created Abeamus to illustrate how I felt the first few weeks dealing with insomnia. I am a full time college student and working artist. There were times when I wanted to give up and stay in bed all day, but I had to keep going. The subtle black figures in the foreground represent my sub-conscience coming to get me and the voices in my head that were giving me strength even though I felt so weak. The figures are crawling because they felt weak as well, but we had to work together. The three heads coming out of the vortex are representations of myself. The purple figure was how I looked on the outside each day, merely existing but still present. The fleshed figure with the veins and extremely tired eyes was how I felt on the inside. Some days I felt my body pulsating or I would experience episodes of dizziness. The grey figure holding me up represents my shadow, who always lurks nearby and when I look down or at the walls I would lean against, almost defeated; it was my shadow who would get me back up and remind me that I am still here and that frankly, I have sh-t to do!


The figures coming out of this vortex almost like a ripple in time represents the concept of time that I lacked. Sometimes, I wouldn't know which day it was, when the last time I had good or actual sleep was, what I should be doing but I know I must be doing something. The beach in the background represents the place I wanted to be in my dreams. That's where the phantasmagorical elements come into play. The idea that something real like a beach or a place I've been/seen before was coming to me in everyday visuals. Moments where I would close my eyes for a second, I would think of a beach and the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore; this would calm me during moments of frustration.


The second piece, entitled "Running Out of Time" inspired me to go back to my experimentation with Fluid art and acrylic pouring.


Running Out of Time, 12x12, acrylic pouring on canvas


I thought I had lost inspiration and the purpose of my concept along the way, but I honestly think I was just too tired to paint after being ambitious with the first piece. While in the studio, I just decided to mix colors and get messy. Bring out the fun in creating again, release my emotions through my use of color and how I can make them flow together. This process felt like meditation for me, I closed my eyes and just made messes of the colors I fused together. I didn't think about it, I just did it. Ironically, the color scheme went with the colors in my first piece and I noticed that after I was done. I wish there was a deeper meaning behind each color, but I can't always decipher what's in my heart, I just feel it. I entitled this piece Running Out of Time because of how I felt about everything. I felt I was losing time before my body would crash from getting no sleep, I felt that I was lagging behind in everything I had going on at the time. But the subtle interruptions of dark and light colors blocking each other off were telling me to just slow down. Anxiety can make you feel like you don't have much time, at least it does for me.


The third and final piece to conclude this series is entitled, "How Will We Ever Get Out of This Labyrinth of Suffering?" The title is inspired by one of my favorite books, Looking For Alaska by John Green.



How Will We Ever Get Out of This Labyrinth of Suffering, 20x24, acrylic on canvas


For this piece, I felt that I finally got my mojo back. I was starting to get sleep again and was finding inspiration in everything. The composition is inspired by Madonna of The Rocks by Leonardo Da Vinci. The figure is inspired by Pale Man's Labyrinth and includes the same color of the figure I used to represent myself in the first piece. For this painting, I wanted to answer Alaska Young's question: How will we ever get out of the labyrinth of suffering?

My answer is to create. Pale man's eyes are on his hands in the movie, but I got the inspiration to put the eyes on my hands to depict that what ever I see, I feel, I am inspired by, and I make come alive. The ocean in the background, if you can tell is much brighter and more vivid because I finally felt that way inside!


I hope that you enjoyed this long description of my series and if you stuck with it and read the entire thing, I thank you so so much! I would love to know of your thoughts so please comment below.


As always, I thank my supporters immensely and I so grateful for you all.


Much Love,


Joia B.