Posted in Art, Blog, College Work, Personal Work, Written Work

The Finale of My Year In Art Foundation

The year was difficult, not only because of the course but because of everything else that happened outside of it. I worked hard, trying my best to learn new techniques, and in the end, I learnt some of the most important things that I could have learnt about art.

There is no perfection in art, there is only meaning. Without meaning, art is just decoration. If it wasn’t for the fact that I tried my best, and put meaning into my work, I’m pretty certain I would have failed due to the incapability of me to do art to the same quality level of my peers.

My drawings are messy, styled as if to look unfinished, and generally quite random and childish. But, that is my work, it’s my style – just like it was Van Gogh’s to paint in spirals and Gorey’s to draw in hatches. While studying Foundation, I found myself being pulled into both traditional and digital art – but in different ways than I had been in the past.

During high school, I had been unable to paint with watercolour due to the poor techniques shown to me. Now, when painting, I exclusively use watercolours. I no longer paint in acrylics, and I despise the mess of oils. But watercolour is fluid and light, it has a pure feeling to it which makes me like the action even more.

Then there is Digital – I could never draw with a pencil on a computer; it seemed impossible, but now it’s second nature to breathing. Now, I draw on my computer daily – producing sketches and doodles; designing tattoos, illustrations, and products for clients. When I first began digital art, I was finding it hard – using Photoshop was difficult because it didn’t have the drawing freedom that I wanted it to have. I couldn’t move around my canvas fluidly and it made the experience staggering and difficult. But now, using Sketchbook – I can do everything I wanted, although it is more difficult to use when creating animation – it is much better when drawing and designing. It gives me the ability to draw and paint in different styles – there are oils, watercolours, acrylics, and inks, as well as fine art pencils. It gives me the freedom to produce the work I want to, using the correct tools, without having to search for them.

I initially started digital art in the Foundation course when Alan suggested a piece of my work may look interesting if digitally drawn. After that, I worked from the life model while using my tablet, and I often took my laptop into college so I could perform bigger drawing tasks that my tablet couldn’t handle.

This form of digital art wasn’t a comfort zone for me, though I picked the basics up fairly quickly. It was difficult to get my mind around but was effective for my first exhibition.

For my second exhibition, I decided to take a step further out of my comfort zone. I continued working on my computer but also decided to start traditionally painting. I experimented with Acrylic but it didn’t react the way I wanted it to, so I began to use watercolour. I produced a series of paintings for my exhibition, I was quite proud of them although they were very cartoon-like.

And for my final major project, I decided somewhat to play it safe – going back to what I went into the course to continue, in the first place – I went back to graphic design. I designed logos and posters, banners and book covers, as well as business cards and websites for clients who were willing to write testimonials for me.

When it got to the end of the course, however, feeling like I had let myself down by not doing something interesting, I decided to present three wooden books – with their front covers painted and burnt into them, and my short stories were written on the inside. I initially got the idea from the previous project that I had written a novelette about a modern day LGBT+ concentration camp. I’m somewhat happy of how they turned out but wish I had given myself more time.

But, in the end, while thinking I was going to fail – I arrived at college and collected my result to find that I had somehow passed and been given a Merit. If anything, I thought I was going to get the lowest passing grade. But I got a Merit. Although, I was still disappointed as I did want a distinction, I knew that with all the trouble and pain I had been through during the year, I knew that I had done well for myself.


I am now looking for a job as a graphic designer. So far, I’ve had two offers. One in London, the other in Wolverhampton.

Unfortunately, I want neither. I need to stay in the area – I have commitments here which I cannot give up. So, I am hoping that something will come along. Otherwise, I’ll be leaving my home, family, and friends – and I don’t particularly want to do that.

Posted in Art, College Work, Final Major Project: Normalised Hate, My LGBT, Written Work

Final Major Project Evaluation

I began the project looking into the normalisation of hate, and I stuck with the theme throughout my project. However, from the initial game design idea I went on to do graphic design which is something I’m very comfortable in due to previously, and currently, working in the industry.

I initially came up with the idea of creating a series of posters to example what normalised hate is, but after speaking with the foundation teachers as well as other students, I found it would better suit if I did step out of my comfort zone a little and make something three dimensional. From this, I decided on working with wood and creating book covers on them. My first idea for the wood was to sketch onto it and paint the covers, but I’m not the strongest painter; and while I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone, I didn’t want to do something I knew was going to turn out horribly. This led me to look into the prospect of Pyrographics – this is the art of burning into wood to produce a pattern. However, knowing that practising with would not only take a lot of time but also a lot of resources which I couldn’t afford to fund, I decide to do it in a different way. Instead of learning to freehand Pyrographics, I decided to practice my graphic design skills so that I could design the covers digitally and transfer the design onto the wood via sketching before burning the design into the wood.

To advance my skills in graphic design, I offered to do graphic designs for companies and people who needed them doing at a low price – in response, I asked them to write me a testimonial so that I had feedback on my work. I produced a variety of content from posters, to social media images, logos, and websites. I also produced a number of book cover designs, for my own works in progress, but also for some writers on a free writing community called Wattpad.

After searching for more commissions to do, and realising I will need to do a pair of silhouettes for a couple of the wooden covers I was going to produce, I decided to offer sketches to people to practice my sketching skills. Though I did these digitally, it helped with the sketching process later on, and made my lines a lot smoother when drawing. I produce three sketches at first, one of James (the head of the Art Department), another of my friend Lee, and one of Lee’s daughter: Leah. The sketches were so liked that I was then asked to produce similar sketches by three other people at the radio station I began working for. And, while doing such, my boss realised I was a graphic designer and started using my services. I got to make a poster for the station, as well as a banner. Both of which turned out very well and I liked them a lot, I’m hoping that they’ll let me rebrand them in the future, as their current logo design is somewhat dreadful.

After producing so many different pieces, I decided it was time to make the digital renderings of the covers I was going to produce. I designed each cover, to somewhat represent the title and the story behind them. For The Pastor, I sketched a man wearing a white colour and a black shirt and hat; for Electro Shock, I drew the outline of a person and had Shock coming out from behind each side of his head; And for Victorious, I drew the equality symbol of a raised in the air fist. Once the sketches were complete, I proceeded to draw them onto the wooden blocks before burning into them. However, I was unable to burn the blurbs as I had planned to. Due to the constant rain, I was unable to work in a ventilated area, causing issues with the action of burning the sketches into the wood as I was often choking on the smoke. Luckily, the front covers had been completed. This led me to decide to make digital blurbs, print them off, and stick them to the wood block as I would be doing with the stories that would be doing in between said blocks.

In conclusion, if I’d had more time and a ventilated area, I would have been able to do the blurbs as well, and maybe even the story on the inside. However, due to such complications, I was unable to fulfil my initial idea of the wooden books. However, I was still somewhat happy with how they turned out, but with the project being somewhat open for more to be built upon the idea of the Normalisation of Hate, I am excited to continue doing the project in my own time – and maybe even reproducing the books and correcting their imperfections.


Posted in Art, College Work, Final Major Project: Normalised Hate, My LGBT, Written Work

Account 3: Electro Shock

Based on a True Story

Written by Castiel Gutierrez

      I came out to my parents, knowing that they had been accepting of my cousin’s sexuality. But it seemed to have been a different situation with me.

I sat them down in the living room after I’d cooked them dinner. I sat in front of them and came out in a calm, and careful way. The first word out of my father’s mouth: abomination. After a month of feeling like I was walking on eggshells, my father gave me an ultimatum. “You can either leave this house and never come back or convert, it’s your choice.”

But it wasn’t my choice, he’d already decided. Although my mother wasn’t entirely against my sexuality, she didn’t save me from the horrors that came next.

I chose to leave, I went to my room and backed my bags but as I was leaving the house, I was stabbed in the neck with a needle – injected with a sleeping drug. I collapsed only to then wake up in a hospital bed. The windows were barred and spackled, I couldn’t open the door to my room – I was locked in, trapped.

I waited there for hours before a nurse came in, wearing what looked like a 1950’s uniform – the hospital wasn’t modern, it was far from it.

“Hello Mr McGregor, you will be staying with us until you’re well again,” she said as she smiled.

“How am I ill?” I asked as I stood up from where I had been sat on the bed.

“You have a disease called Homosexuality, but don’t worry – we can save you.” She smiled before she turned and left the room.

She left me in the room, my mouth hung open. I was dumbfounded. I kept thinking: how could my father do this to me? I was never going to leave that house, he wouldn’t let me. I was always going to go through it, he would have found a way.

From the very first day of being in the hospital, I was tortured. I was treated with Electro Shock Therapy every day for a month, and twice a day for a year after that. I was subjected to watching women undress and forced to have sex with them.

I wanted to die, I kept trying to kill myself.

After a year inside, I was allowed a telephone call to speak to a friend. I didn’t call a friend, I called a Human Rights Organisation to get me out.

Within a month of the call, I was released. We worked hard to have the institute shut down but couldn’t due to conversion therapy being legal in my state.

It’s been seven years now, and I’m still recovering. I have permanent scars on the sides of my forehead from the electrocution as well as mental scaring from the beatings and rape.

I spoke to my parents in a contact centre, one last time, this year. I asked my father why he accepted my cousin but not me, because Lesbian porn is a good watch. All of his answers made me sick to the stomach. Especially when he said I would have been okay with you being gay if you had a brother… 

My parents tortured me in an attempt to keep our family’s reputation in Church. They had hoped that the treatment would have worked, or at least killed me in the process.

I’m happy to be alive now – I may be scarred, but I’m happily married and defying my parents with every breath I take.

I survived hell, I won’t be broken by the aftermath.

Posted in Art, College Work, Final Major Project: Normalised Hate, My LGBT, Written Work

Account 2: Victorious

Based on a True Story

Written by: Castiel Gutierrez

                I thought I was wrong; seeing all of my friends dating boys, I thought I was weird. After high school, I ended up marrying my prom date, John – he knew I wasn’t straight, and I knew he wasn’t either. We told our parents that we would take the vow of abstinence until we got married – they thought we were being good, Christian children but we actually didn’t do anything because we were both gay. After we married, we lived together, we shared a bed like a married couple would – we even kissed. But it was more of a besties situation than anything. We were just happy to be in a relationship where we could both be who we were and not be pressured into anything.

However, after three years of marriage, our parents started begging for a grandchild. It was so awkward, we had decided that we’d have a kid together at some point when we could afford to do it without needing to have intercourse but we couldn’t wait any longer. We ended up buying this weird fertilisation kit, it worked well considering the price of it. I was pregnant after two tries.

Six months into the pregnancy, John fell in love with a guy we’d befriended from a pool club we visited every weekend. Mike was a nice enough fella, he moved in with us after a month of them getting together. Our parents started questioning why he was living with us so we had to make up an excuse of: he would have ended up homeless. Making that up just made us seem like saints even more… It was so annoying having to lie but it was either that or losing our jobs in the family business.

When our little boy arrived, John and Mike took over on the caring side – I couldn’t handle the crying. He was in better hands with John and Mike. After around a year, Mike got sick. He ended up in the hospital, we didn’t know what was wrong with him until John started showing the same symptoms.

Mike had caught HIV before entering a relationship with John. He had a sexual health check before they did anything but it came back as negative due to the incubation period.

My parents realised that Mike and John had been sleeping together – they fired both of us, which effectively cancelled our health insurance Mike tried to convince his insurance to handle John’s case too but by the time they got around the red tape John had already gone. John died of AIDS. At John’s funeral, Mike sobbed like a baby while holding John Jr. My parents didn’t turn up and they didn’t tell John’s parents of his ‘infidelity’. After the ceremony, John’s parents asked me why Mike cried more than me – I told them: Because Mike was John’s boyfriend. They didn’t like it, but they weren’t allowed to take his body from the family crept after that. Although, we’d lost John and his parents hated me and our son: we were victorious.