Meet the Norfolk woman using paint to promote wellbeing

Local artist, Natasha Day working on a painting. Photo: M Day

Local artist, Natasha Day working on a painting. Photo: M Day - Credit: M Day

Norwich-based artist, Natasha Day, reveals how she uses her love of art to help others with their mental health.

A painting by local artist, Natasha Day. Photo: M Day

A painting by local artist, Natasha Day. Photo: M Day - Credit: M Day

Name: Natasha Day

Age: In my fifties

Job Title: I am an Artist and Tutor.

Describe your job in a nutshell: I run Intuitive Art- Freedom to paint workshops and Art for Wellbeing groups alongside creating and exhibiting my own work.

My workshops involve sharing techniques that enable people to create abstract or abstracted paintings and develop further down a free path to self expression. We use acrylic paint which is my favourite medium and mixed media and all the techniques taught are the ones I use in my own work.

Local artist, Natasha Day working on a painting. Photo: M Day

Local artist, Natasha Day working on a painting. Photo: M Day - Credit: M Day

In a nutshell I would describe my job as a tutor as a cross between life coaching and facilitation of personal creativity for good mental health. I am convinced of the link between the two and research backs this up time and time again.

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What do you enjoy most about your job? Watching people who are convinced they have nothing creative inside them, begin to use the language of paint to explore and express their feelings while developing new skills. It's often a transformation for people to realise that they can be creative, it's very self affirming and confidence building.

What's the most challenging aspect? Every person's needs are different within a learning situation, so I have to make myself as flexible as possible as one size doesn't fit all. Its important to tune in, so that I can understand how best to assist people with their work.

This is where I find it useful to draw on what I learnt from my first career, working as a mental health nurse, in building relationships quickly with people and listening to them, knowing when to stand back and when to pitch in with direction.

Can you tell us something we may not know about your job? It is not so much a job, as a way of life for me. I never really switch off as my head is constantly on the look out for new inspirations, ideas and interpretations and if I'm not reading about art or thinking about creating, I'm making art.

A painting by local artist, Natasha Day. Photo: M Day

A painting by local artist, Natasha Day. Photo: M Day - Credit: M Day

That makes me sound very one sided and focused, I'm not really either, I've just become gradually seduced by it and it's a compulsive mind set for me, it's how I manage in a difficult, changing world, it's my constant.

What does an ideal day at work involve for you? An ideal day at work involves heading up to a Mundesley Hospital on a Tuesday where I run an Open Art Group in the morning with patients and staff. I love using art within the world of mental health to facilitate wellbeing, I always used it as a nurse and now I just get to do the best bit where we aim to create a relaxed atmosphere separate from the hospital which has a healing quality enhanced by the opportunity to make art within a safe and fun group situation.

What was your first job? My first job was a world away from now, selling cakes and bread in a bakery, I still love cake!

Where do you find your inspiration? Inspiration is a funny thing. I find it's either switched on or off and the more I focus on looking around me and translating the world into colour and shape, the more I get the urge to reproduce it in whatever form works for me at that time.

I often use my camera on my phone as a starting point for most of my work, taking pictures of a view, a stone, a leaf, a mood - it's all 'food', the secret recipe is learning to really see, then you will always be excited.

What advice would you give to others looking to pursue a similar career? The advice I would give to others looking to pursue a similar career has several strands:

• Firstly, develop your drive in the arts by regularly creating, look at other people's work, famous or not, look in books, look online, go to exhibitions, experiment with different mediums and develop your own way of doing things. It's so important that you never stop growing creatively.

• Secondly network, join art groups and clubs, gather around people who are where you want to be and learn how to get there, if you need a qualification to help then go get that as part of the building blocks to your goal.

• Thirdly, put yourself and your work out there, talk about what you do and what you want to do, grow confidence in yourself to take the knock backs, be generous and share information and skills and people will do the same with you.

• Finally, I always needed another part time income while I was working towards my goal and I still sometimes do so don't believe the idea that to commit that's it's all or nothing, it's what works for you.

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