Often, words feel inadequate, or too conclusive, to express the range and depth of my emotional landscapes. I suppose that’s why the dark horse is nameless. Life right now feels like coming awake from a bad dream and realizing it was all a terrible joke I played on myself. There’s been a lot to process and I need to make use of every possible tool in my expanding kit in order to hold a clear enough view to make it through a day.

I had come across a technique, loosely inspired by Buddhist sand mandalas, that lets form flow onto a surface in repeating patterns only to be wiped away the moment it is complete. In the Tibetan tradition, every layer has a meaning and the practice has become ritualized meditation.

I turned to friends and books after a few years of not being able to and allowed nature to help me take the time I need, feeling thankful through the misery for having woken up at all. I suppose life at best is a series of awakenings.

A page from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, sketched over digitally for better remembering and safer keeping.

The graphic design world that I’ve been a part of is about catering to clients and manipulating the visual language to make a consumer (ugh!) take action. Fortunately, I am involved in other aspects of design too – service design and research in waste management, healthcare and medical technology. I know many disenchanted designers whose love for their medium is compromised over time by the things they need to do with it to earn a living. Designers seem to know how to work with skill, but somewhere along the way, seem to need to give up the fullness of the emotion that goes into making the art. Art I’d been naturally involved in 4 or 5 years ago seemed impossible. Having made a decision to find a different way to work (still figuring) I started on my somethings, somehow. The only place I could really start was where I was, and it seemed like nowhere.

“There are professions more harmful than industrial design,
but only a few.” Victor Papanek

At least once a day, sometimes more, my only objective was to be true to how I felt and capture it on paper, building a ladder towards gathering all the dismembered parts of me. Out burst tangle-inspired, nature-form-seeking sketches, windows into my state of mind.

Turn a picture upside down and you might see something completely different. Most of the images were named post-sketching and I sometimes asked friends for word that came to mind. I’ve been kindly encouraged to use this as a starting point rather than an end. I know the good feels and the wretched ones, I wonder if you can tell them apart?

Growth, Womb, Knots, Currents, Entanglement
Growth, Womb, Knots, Currents, Entanglement
Crowded, get me out of here
Crowded, Get me out of here
Tough nut, woke
Tough nut, Woke
Cliffhanger, all over, stir it up
Cliffhanger, Stir it up, Hold it together
Snake, weeding
Snake, Weeding
Phony Symphony
Phony Symphony Cacophony, Under the sea
Where do we go from here? Perspective, Desperado
Where do we go from here? Perspective
Reaching out with broken hands
Reaching out with broken hands
Garden, upstairs
Garden, Upstairs
Wriggle, open
Wriggle, Open
Expansive, rain, waves
Expansive, Rain, Waves, Lightning

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