When it comes to how she's feeling, Xanthe Wyse lets her artworks do the talking.
The Taupō woman uses creative expression to process and transform trauma and to express what she can't find the words for.
So it's appropriate that Xanthe's upcoming exhibition at Taupō's Red Rock Gallery is called Speak and is billed as an Art as Therapy exhibition.
It follows Spinning Orbit, Xanthe's first exhibition two years ago where her collection of colourful artworks documented her struggles with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
She was surprised and grateful that 13 of the paintings in that exhibition sold and that people not only liked the artworks and the concept that the works were quite messy because they were about processing emotions. They also embraced her concept of selling them without prices.
Xanthe says when she goes into a hyper-aroused state because of her bipolar and PTSD, painting helps to calm her and direct her energy into something creative as well as helping process her trauma.
She puts some music on repeat and says she goes into a kind of trance, just painting by intuition.
"With my style I'm going deeper than actual therapy does, usually to music that speaks for me and to movement because it's the opposite of being frozen and shut down...that's why there's a lot of movement in my paintings. I kind of dance paint. It's very, very energising yet relaxing. I feel this incredible release that I can't get any other way."
Xanthe also paints when she is depressed but says this happens less often, although she finds it helps to lift her emotions.
"Even if I'm just slapping on paint somewhere then I will feel an emotional shift and even have a cry and then it lifts, so I don't spend long periods in depression any more."
Xanthe uses colours as symbolism and says the activity of painting and symbols help her say what she needs to when she can't find the words.
"Speak is about being unable to speak and expressing the trauma. I don't speak out loud when I paint, I'm silent.
"The paintings are telling stories. All the paintings are linked for me, they are very complex on multiple levels. The paintings process my own trauma and transform it. Transforming is a key part and that's why I use colour. I'm painting in metaphor so that I have distance from it. It's like changing and turning the horrible things into something interesting."
For Speak, Xanthe has prepared around 30 artworks, mostly acrylic on canvas paintings but some three-dimensional pieces as well. She describes her art as "raw and messy".
"It's about speaking without words and it's improvised expression. I'm not trying to paint a pretty painting and have it perfect, I'm expressing something from within and that's what makes it different and interesting to people."
Speak - Art as Therapy runs daily from 10am to 4pm at Red Rock Gallery, 63 Raywood Cres, Ashwood Park (off Crown Rd), Taupō , from Saturday, September 19 to Tuesday, September 22. All pieces are for sale, most for under $100. Xanthe is grateful for the support of the Taupō District Creative Communities Scheme.