‘Stop’ Icon Development

Incremental Progress

For about two months now, I have been concentrating on ways to express my feelings with visual media. My blog did not start out that way. In fact, my original mission was to discuss autism from the point of view of a sibling, along with side conversations about neuroscience, philosophy, ethics and mental health issues. I stuck by that very faithfully until a very disappointing visit with my older autistic brother.  It was then I decided to shift my focus toward expressing my own feelings and give up thinking of communicating with Mike, which had never been possible.

For those of you just looking at my blog for the first time, Sonia Boué (soniaboue.co.uk) wrote a fine synopsis of my blog on her website. Thank you Sonia, I am very grateful and thankful for your review.

Unlinking intellect and feeling

More than a month ago, in the post, ‘Beginning of an Iconography’, I did not think it possible for self expression to be unlinked  from an artist’s intellect. I’m glad to say that I didn’t totally give up on that possibility. Today I struck on a way to do just that: unlink what I’m thinking  from what I’m feeling.

Simple icon

It was fortunate that the icon I chose to develop today was simple. An outstretched hand, palm facing out, often means stop. When you want someone to stop, you would ask them politely. If you see someone in imminent danger, you might shout, “STOP” or even use your hands to push them out of harm’s way.

It struck me how important it is to link feeling with the icons I develop. So I thought of incorporating the push motion into actually generating the icon was very appealing. In the first set of images below, I drew the brush quickly. If I could have jabbed it five times, one for each finger (and thumb) I would have. That was the feeling: jabbing, direct, quick. No intellect needed.

A series of small watercolor strokes, practice for hand icons

Stop Icon Practice
4″x7″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

In the study below, I used two other elements.from a photograph which inspired this icon. I only partially completed the mouth and I didn’t know exactly how to handle Mike’s hand, which was in motion.

Icons representing 'stop', 'hitting' and 'yell'

Stop Hand Icon Development
5″x7″ 140# Hot Pressed Watercolor Block

I’m not sure if these combined elements make any sense visually, but I believe that they are the elements of the photograph from which they were abstracted.

The photograph

Somehow I always thought of the photograph below as ‘The Stove’, since the stove in the background fits with the heat of anger that Mike must have been feeling on some level.

autistic tourette complex motor tic self injurious behaviour

Michael would occasionally haul off an hit himself in the chest with his arm, or slap himself in the head. I caught the motion of his arm, in this instance, before it descended. Typically, he would also bite his other hand. I first showed this photo on the post entitled, ‘Complex Motor Tics?‘, and talked more about whether his action was an involuntary behavior. Now it is more important for me to forget the reasons for his behavior and try to connect how I felt about it.

Study with real feeling

I almost ended my post right before this heading. I had forgotten the most significant painting I did today. Not that I am sure that the painting below works; only that I had some kind of feeling when I thought what to do, and when I painted it. I can’t describe the feeling. I was diddling around with the icons that I hand learned to quickly apply to the paper and I thought I would literally put myself into the picture. I mixed up enough paint to cover my hand, and put my handprint over most of what I had just painted. I repainted those icons still visible. I don’t know if it worked, but I know I had a rush of some kind of feeling.

Study of Hand Icons, real hand print and slapping icon

Stop Icons Study
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


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