Therapeutic escape: Zara Tisma

Zara Tisma turns to art as a therapeutic escape; a form of meditation that helps her to declutter her mind and process emotions. Through her detailed drawings she explores the dialogue between nature and man-made environments, seeking to find a harmonious balance between both worlds. We speak about what inspired this exploration; how she overcomes challenges in her practice and how creativity affects her well-being.

Talk to us about the meaning and inspirations behind your drawings? 

My practice explores the dialogue between natural and man-made objects and environments, finding balance between organic and synthetic objects and spaces. 

Each of my drawings start with a seed of inspiration, a memory, a person, a place, or a feeling.  Starting small, my drawings are rarely pre-composed as I prefer to let my imagination navigate and my intuition define where the piece is lead to. I’m often surprised when I begin to start a piece that I imagine would be small and self-contained when in the end it turns out to be triple the size I had anticipated.

You’ll see that nature is heavily referenced throughout my work as organic lines, forms and textures build the foundations of each piece. It will come as no surprise when I say that my studio is lined with potted plants and fresh cuttings as they give me an overwhelming sense of peace and inspiration for my work.

Zara Tisma
What inspired you to explore this dialogue between natural and man-made objects and environments?

As an adult who has come to experience the rise and dominance of globalism, I am very aware and guilty of neglecting the beauty and stillness that nature brings to balance the chaos in man-made turbulence. But I also can’t help but admire progressive advances within communities across continents and industries. My work seeks to find a harmonious balance between man-made progressive spaces and objects as well as organic natural forms and environments. 

Cameras capture memories, words document history but art opens closed doors. 

A few years ago, I read a book by scientist, environmentalist and futurist James Lovelock who dedicated his career to researching the Gaia theory. Lovelock believed that living organisms build a relationship with their inorganic surroundings to form a synergistic and self-regulating system to help maintain the earth’s cycle. In other words, we as humans will perpetually push the natural world to go through essential cycles such as climate change and evolution of species. The same theory applies to my practise, I’ll see my work go through natural cycles as a result of a change in my life but like any artist, I will always return to basics once my creative destination has been reached.

Walk us through your creative process … from initial ideas to the final art piece?

As I mentioned before, my work starts with what I like to call a seed; a defining point of reference. This might be a person, a place, a memory, or a feeling. 

I use my practice as a therapeutic escape as much as an explorative, creative journey.

As an artist, I tend to work on set projects and ongoing series as this gives me a structure and a creative goal to work towards for each body of work. Naturally by working in this way, I’ll see new styles of drawing manifest because I might be exploring something new. Equally as I jump from project to project, I might find myself wanting to explore new materials… and dare I say, colour.  

Tropical Nursery, ink on paper
What is your favourite part of the process? And what do you find the most challenging?

I am sure I am not alone when I say that the most challenging part of my practice is staring at a blank sheet of white paper. That first mark, especially in ink, always has me a little hesitant but the process is where I come into myself and come alive. For those that like to cook, my drawing is like trying to get the perfect pasta sauce. I have to keep adding lots of little bits until I get to a point where I feel I’ve done enough to satisfy. 

I prefer to let my imagination navigate and my intuition define where the piece is lead to

How do you like to work? Do you have any art rituals?

Like so many artists, I use my practice as a therapeutic escape as much as an explorative, creative journey. I find it very soothing to journal by drawing little references to myself either early in the morning or just before bed as it helps me to declutter my mind. 

There is a time to scatter and a time to gather, ink on paper
How does creativity affect your overall well-being? 

Drawing is my form of meditation; I’ve always felt at peace when I’ve got a pencil and paper in my hand. I find it a comfort to know that I am able process difficult situations and feelings of anxiety through art rather than having to articulate them into words. I believe that the arts are a wonderful outlet for anyone experiencing mental health issues, difficult life changes and grief. 

And lastly, what does art mean for you?

In my opinion: cameras capture memories, words document history but art opens closed doors. 

Get to know Zara more:


Wilt, Fall, Root, Grow

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