Kimberly Elliot | Art As Self-Care
I know my art and my process to be a form of self-care whether I realize it or not. I started drawing when I was six years old and saw art as a simple hobby. I practiced drawing and painting with no other intention other than the fact that I wanted to be better at it. At that age, it was a pleasure rather than a release. As I grew older, I came to use art as a way to express ideas and thoughts I neglected at the time. I then began to consciously use art to confront internal conflict or confusion.
Growing up, my family was always traveling between countries. Due to my father’s career, we frequently moved from house to house and began living in between the Philippines and America. I developed a lot of insecurities with my weight and my ethnicity and I had no self-confidence. I couldn’t identify myself in either culture or community and it forced me to really question my identity at a young age - I wanted to belong and feel good about myself. Later on, as a teenager, I suffered from anxiety and developed an eating disorder in high school.
Around this time, I focused a lot of my energy into creating. I realized how much better I felt, regardless of the result. I wrote a lot of short stories in my room and I began drawing and painting in my spare time. It was always the process of taking out sheets of paper or a blank canvas and using my imagination which provided a space for me to be in my own world and express myself.
I began to discover different styles and enjoyed drawing ideas and subjects that I couldn’t normally articulate when I was with family or friends. I started to draw a lot of portraits of nude women with body hair and body fat and different skin colors - images of women that I wouldn’t normally see celebrated outside of my own drawings. I drew a lot of self-portraits and took a lot of release from it. The ritual produced a feeling of self-assurance within myself and it continues to do so. I see the creative process of art as a way of developing self-acceptance and I’m thankful for it to this day.
- Kimberly Elliott