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  • Writer's pictureIJE-Artist


Hi everyone, this is my first ever blog on my new website, so here goes.

I was asked a question recently from one of my followers relating to a few posts I’d recently shared on social media showing 5 paintings in the series: I Am Not Afraid Of The Dark. This series is about fear with darkness being a metaphor for change, difference, low confidence, bad things in life and general states of fear and anxiety. It is about living life and embracing change, movement, brightness; that we can survive and thrive when we open ourselves to up despite our fears.

Detail from I Am Not Afraid Of The Dark 3; Mixed Media on paper 68 x 49.5 cm

The question they asked me was: How difficult is it emotionally, I mean to paint about these subjects?

My brief answer was that the initial thinking stages and concepts are the toughest, that's when I have the idea and can get swamped with low confidence, fear of failure, self-censorship. I feel passionately about my work and so I tend to worry that I can't realise what I'm imagining, even though I can't "see" exactly what it is I want to create.

Having thought more on this I feel that “birthing” my art is emotionally challenging, sometimes harrowing, usually frustrating and nearly always joyous.

In this particular series, I Am Not Afraid of The Dark, the idea began during the first painting. I had gotten so frustrated with a painting I’d begun in 2016, thought was finished, but I just couldn’t settle with it, I couldn’t take it to the framer, our conversation wasn’t complete, just interrupted. Over the next three years I’d get it out, look at it, move around it, go to start something, but just kept holding back. I was stuck in that fearful place of being “unhappy with where I’m at but frightened to act in case I made it worse, yet knowing that I had to continue forwards and make progress or abandon it, destroy it. I can’t do that, I can’t unmake something and I can’t destroy it just because it is not yet realised – there is always potential and hope for more.

Gran Gu Sior 2016-2018 became I Am Not Afraid Of The Dark 1

I challenged myself, about why and what was holding me stuck in that space, stopping time. Once I identified that fear itself would make me fail, that it was my construct and I could change how I feel, that fear coloured every aspect of my life and I needed to address it – then I could breathe, emotionally I could be at ease. I could create space to just be, to enjoy making, to let the rhythms move me; I recognised that I wouldn’t let myself/it fail - so what if I made it worse, I’d be able to rescue it or it would become something totally different.

Deep breath and then re-frame, look up and then hover and look down; with this perspective I could turn fear into opportunity, take a chance that to change my original intentions would be positive, that those marks, textures and layers were the foundations and actually required in my process. A new refrain began, I am no longer afraid of darkness, of scary things because they can be overcome. I began to paint and write.

Working at the big easel in my studio, beginning the transformation

I Am Not Afraid Of The Dark

It is full of remembered symmetries that have slid through smooth spaces, over fallen rocks & buoyed on tidal races.

I Am Not Afraid Of The Dark

It echoes with the murky depths of life, whose battles for survival are mingled in the dirt trodden by multiples.

I Am Not Afraid Of The Dark

Infinite possibilities emerge as startling realisations of future opportunities whose radiance shines bright with the light of living.

Poem by Ije - I Am Not Afraid Of The Dark 1; 2019

Gestural marks and dancing, slowly letting go; work In Progress (WIP) –I Am Not Afraid Of The Dark 1

The emotional turmoil, uncertainty and reward doesn’t end at creating an artwork. It is also emotionally hard and anxiety raising to expose new work to the public as it is an external test of me as an artist, it feels unsafe and out of my control, this unveiling for public consideration / acceptance / judgement / competition / payment.

From my point of view sharing my work is emotionally complex, not simply about seeking approval or validation; rather, more fundamentally I’m asking whether people can connect with it. Does their encounter with the piece elicit an emotional response, does it make them feel something? I am fearful of this unknown, yet eager that someone out there will be richer for having seen it, someone will not just like it, they’ll feel it.

Detail from I Am Not Afraid Of The Dark 1; Mixed Media on canvas 156 x 126 cm

In my next blog I’ll talk more about the early stages of how I make my paintings: Thoughtbooks, research, concepts and testing out.

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Jun 14, 2020


With the virtual Open Studios just around the corner, I thought of you because you were the person who pointed my wife and I towards WOS. Though it's all turned out nothing like anyone expected. So I came here to see what you were up to.

This post certainly chimed with me. About having the courage to begin. The end of this month is the first anniversary of the untimely death of a cabaret performer I knew. She was someone who had dared to step out of the shadows and be herself on the stage. She was also enormously kind and supportive of others' desires to follow their dreams. Her death affected me greatly, and spurred me to actually…

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