Being faced with a blank canvas with the desire of creating something magnificent and majestic is inarguably immensely daunting and most people will see it as something to be avoided at all costs. The pressure of personal expectation must surely exact a heavy mental toll so the question is begged that is art beneficial or a burden? Self-taught artist Jane Mansbridge divulged that “having suffered with my mental health for many years I found art very therapeutic and when I lose myself in painting nothing else matters.” In the wake of the wave of mental health issues, exacerbated by the pandemic, Jane’s testimony is proof that remedies take various forms with art being one of the most productive and beautiful ones.

When asking about what sparked the art fever Jane issued a relatively sad yet also uplifting story that ‘when I was at school the art teacher said I had no natural talent but when my youngest son started doing the art scholarship I would sit up the table to do art with him whereupon I discovered a true joy.’ This account reveals two interesting truths: teachers can sometimes be crashingly wrong and also that art is a unifying and social experience that does not necessarily have to be confined to privacy. Furthermore after inquiring about the way in which she advanced her skill Jane stated that, ‘[she] is self-taught from Youtube tutorials for the last three years and I upload my work to social media to show my progress’. Will the wonders and utility of technology never cease? Moreover, ‘on social media I get positive feedback to the point that I am now considering selling my work’ so not only is the process of doing the art cathartic but the response from others is so rewarding that your confidence can be boosted.

There is a misinterpretation of what art is sometimes where the image of a palette and easel floats into view but Jane offered the assurance that ‘many people do not realise how many different art forms there are as anything creative can be artistic.’ This alludes to the original point in this article about expectation; art does not have to be an elaborate portrait but even just a daub of paint on paper so do not allow expectation to deter you.

In final parting words of wisdom in this interview, Jane repeated the phrase that framed her mindset when painting which was, ‘paint for the bin’ so that it removes all pressure from you and don’t always listen to what other people say, just paint for you’. This seems very profound and is further sweetened by the admission that ‘the sheer enjoyment of giving art to people as gifts seems like a sincere act of kindness and has been so good for me medically. In conclusion I would urge people to pick up a paintbrush and give it a try today, support any artists that you know or discover online and of course check out Jane’s Instagram: Janes_art_attempts to view her fantastic work.