“I struggle with visualising that first-imagined image; however, I know what it is I want to create. This disconnect was frustrating for me, so I taught myself this 4-stage process which works well to help me reach my desired artistic outcome.”
By Sheryl Hanna-Kumas
The migration of my autistic artwork is displayed by my use of many different mediums, as I cannot truly say I use or prefer one method more than any other. I use as many methods as possible within my means to express my artistic vision.
I have a unique process I go through when I create my own artwork, in which I take inspiration from other artists works, looking at many different images and making choices and decisions on what elements inspire me. Although I love to explore my creativity through artwork, it is very difficult at times with my neurodiverse brain to be able to focus and concentrate enough to fully imagine something I want to make.
I will lay out the stages of my creative process that I follow for my art and give examples of the progression in those works. I struggle with visualizing that first-imagined image; however, I know what it is I want to create. This disconnect was frustrating for me, so I taught myself this 4-stage process which works well to help me reach my desired artistic outcome.
Stage 1: The first thing I do is take time to consider a concept of what my artwork will be. In this case, I decided to draw a dragon.
Stage 2: The next step is for me to take a factual and methodical approach to researching as many images as possible which relate to my concept, and gather those that are closest to my concept. I look at about 50 different images of dragons, and windle down to two or three that I best feel connected to.
Stage 3: After I have picked out my favorite images, I carefully consider what elements I am drawn to most about each picture. This is the point at which I begin sketching out those parts, and I am soon left with a unique outline of a dragon.
Stage 4: At this point I can begin to imagine my finished creation, and all I need to do is finish working on it to make it mine.
Another part of my artistic process involves giving a recently completed art piece a couple months before I revisit it with fresh eyes. I am fascinated by my later reflections on the work, where I critically analyse the piece and ask myself 3 questions; Are you still happy with it? Is it finished? Do you feel it should stay as it is or be re-worked or evolved?
With my dragon, which was drawn with charcoal pencils and drawing art pens on canvas, I decided I was happy with it and liked that it looks different; an amalgamation of a dragon and a sea horse, the combination of which I am visually drawn to as an image.
I also like to depict myself or others in my artwork—but with no face. I personally connect better with art depicting people if there is less detail or none in the face; it helps me view the artwork more clearly as I no longer have to think about who the person is. This enables me to view the bigger picture and/or place myself in the work and see that person as me.
This oil pen painting is a self-portrait of me during my teenage years in school. At that time I was bright, young, and vibrant, but the teachers did not see me as me. No one wanted to help with my educational difficulties. No one had the time or budget to support me to learn and progress.
This painting represents my inner struggle of having, as I see it, one foot in a Neuro-typical world and one foot in a neurodiverse world. The concept of this work is for the observer to consider which world is the lighter and which is the darker side.
My name is Sheryl Freya Hanna-Kumas. I am in my 40’s and I am dyslexic and autism lives with me.
I am a mom of two and stepmother of two, and I work full time as an SEN teacher in a college for young people with diverse and complex needs.
I am also a Master’s student at the School of Art in Birmingham, and I am loving my time in my courses.