Opening to a Deeper Strength
The image shown here depicts a recent series of pastels I call "Lost and Found". Although the title is based loosely on the idea of edges in art, my aim was to give a view of what living with a chronic illness has been like for me. There are many things I have had to lose, or let go of, because they no longer work for me and my body. Self-care, medical appointments, and painting have become the central elements of my life.
Self-care involves surrendering to strict limitations and sticking with a regime that works (most of the time). Keeping up with medical appointments and patient portals offers me ample opportunities to practice patience. And when I have the energy, painting is a blessing, an all-encompassing act that softens the edges of my symptoms and places my worries on hold.
Living with this illness has taught me more about endurance than I ever had to experience as a healthy person. However, the positive side of that is what this new-found endurance has brought to my work as an artist. For instance, I typically work in series and have been doing so for the past few years. This allows me to explore various techniques, sizes of pastel paper, and color palettes. It totally takes the pressure off the 'one and done syndrome' in which if I didn't paint a certain subject well, I'd feel a sense of failure and quickly move on to something new. With a series, the wrong answers are guideposts to the next attempt. The right answers are celebrated and built upon. Experimentation is celebrated with each new version. This persevering process enables me to explore limitless possibilities, listening with my heart and not to my inner critic. In sticking with it, I surrender my ideas of right and wrong. In this state, I can listen more closely to the subject that caught my attention, the light, the textures, and the sense of 'home', wherever and whatever form that takes.
As I was doing my early morning stretches, I meditated on the intersection, or better yet, the friendship between my health and my art. They're a bit like Piglet and Pooh. Piglet, my disease, is obsessed with trying to figure out how to stay safe and not get eaten by a heffalump. Pooh, my art, is always positioned for the next fun adventure, especially if it involves honey, the sweet nectar of life. I'm opening to a deeper strength now like a hummingbird in a trumpet flower. When standing at my easel, I am transported to a place of no limitations. It is here, that I am free to express my love and gratitude for life.