Spotlight Sunday [Derek]

My online shop has been open now for just over a week and I wanted to create a blog post each week discussing a piece of work that is currently in it. This will be on a Sunday and I will cover the works themes and how they portrayed my own or other peoples feelings during that time. I will also talk about the methods I used to create it.

Today’s post will be about my favourite of the anxiety monsters. Derek was painted during my third year of Uni and was one of the first anxiety monsters painted using inks on translucent materials.


Derek was painted onto A1 acetate using a mixture of drawing inks and acrylic inks but I had not refined the technique to what it is now. In my earlier work the mixing of colours wasn’t something I had worked with often so when I used a range of bright colours and threw them all together to nobodies surprise the ink turned brown. Derek was a combination of colours because I remember experimenting how I could achieve multiple tones without them blending together. When they did mix it left the colours muddy.

When I initially start a painting  it is always flat on the ground. I then use quantities of ink in a single colour to build up a form before throwing in more colours to create more depth and detail. Back in University this was a completely new technique and in the last year I have become a lot more refined and I am more particular where I place colours. Derek’s main colour started with a red that built up most of his body followed by a mixture of pinks and yellows around the top to bulk out the form.

At this stage the painting was really bright in colour and had not mixed in a way that caused the darker reds on his head that the final piece has. It was when I attempted to mix in the gold inks and the blue inks was it when some the colours darkened. This layer of ink could take a few days to  dry which then allowed me to lift them and place them vertically on a wall for a second layer of ink. This layer would drip down the sheet and make colour streaks dripping from the body of the monster. I don’t use this technique as often now that I use perspex but it is something I want to use in my newest work.

When comparing Derek to a recent painting it’s obvious that I have worked on the technique of picking out the right colours. For example Timothy is another acetate painting from this year and I was able to select the reds and the turquoise and position them so they wouldn’t blend into the darker tones that Derek has.

Despite this Derek is one of my favourite paintings to this day and I would find it difficult to part ways with him. I used him for our half way  show during the third year. Each student could select one piece of work and since one of my other favourite paintings had been entered into the drawing prize it was no contest who I was going to pick. During this show I had experimented with how to exhibit my work and painting onto a translucent materials lead me to playing around with lighting. I used a window as a backing for the painting but the lighting left Derek’s body translucent making him almost ghostly. I stopped this by cutting out a white template out of card to give him a solid form without the light passing through to the same extent.

As I have written about before the third year of University was when my anxiety and stress were at it’s worst. I had developed IBS and my general mental health was not in a great place. The birth of the anxiety monsters allowed me to take back some control and used it as creative outlet. Derek was born out of a particularly difficult month as I was expected to be in the studios working long hours. Unfortunately my anxiety had other ideas and I often wouldn’t make it into the studios until  at least lunch time before heading back home by around five out of exhaustion and the knowledge I had to do that journey all over again.

This meant I didn’t get much time to work on Derek in solid bouts but mostly small contributions over the course of that month. It was over this time that I actually developed the technique of using a plastic basis to paint onto so there was a mixture of anticipation and excitement going into the work. The one thing I love about art is no matter how crippled with mental troubles I may be I find comfort and excitement in creating. I found in that in those few hours I got to work on my paintings it made all that effort and worrying worth it.

Derek will always be one of my favourite anxiety monsters. He is a reminder of where I started out and what I have achieved since then. Since Derek’s creation I have got a degree, worked on my IBS in therapy and started a business. My anxiety monsters will continue to develop and from those works I can create new and interesting ideas based around the theme of mental health. Without Derek the anxiety monsters wouldn’t have continued on and shaped my work today.

Prints of Derek are available on the MessyMiscreation store in A3 with a satin finish. Each print is also signed and numbered from a limited edition of 50 that were originally sold at the National Autistic Society’s Autism Con on the 5th of March 2016. Prints will not be printed again at this size.


The MessyMiscreation store has a mixture of prints and originals available but if there is something on the portfolio page you see and its not available in the store let me know and it may become a future print or the original could be purchased.

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