Recently a friend and I were discussing how life threatening illnesses make us aware of our own mortality. Western civilisation is not very good at discussing, let alone embracing death and dying. Somewhat foolish given that it is inevitable.
For us, the impact of such illness has left a lasting legacy. Surprisingly perhaps, not one of fear. Instead the reality of a recurring illness pushed me to a 2 part decision.
To take my art seriously enough to pursue developing it to the best of my ability.
And, conversely, to retain the sense of fun, exploration, experiment and wonder.
The first means that (as some may already know) this year is devoted to ‘hands on art’ with very little digital work. Oh I will still fiddle with cropping, perhaps adding a background, or adjust colour and lighting – my camera is very basic and some things are too large to scan. But any digital contribution for now is minimal. Alongside that, I am furthering my skills by taking courses, mostly online so that I can move at my own pace when pain or illness stops me in my tracks for a while.
The second means taking risks; enjoying and allowing for, happy accidents. That led to my first ever complete watercolour painting.
I was delighted with the result. Completing this broke through a long held fear of water colour as a sole expressive medium instead of as an added ‘extra’.
Best of all though, I have travelled full circle (with some added skills) and gone back to something I left behind 20 years ago: the combination of intuitive painting combined with some collage.
Working this way is a real test of trust because where it will go is not known when I begin. I have to trust that all the ideas, feelings, desires and passions will take shape on the paper or canvas. So the collage goes down in an intuitive way (“I think this belongs here”)… then some added paint, then time to ponder. Standing back from those beginnings, turning it every which way, and responding to the inner voice that leads, is both exciting and at times intimidating. But oh the joy when there’s that ‘a ha!’ moment.
That’s when the left brain gets to problem solve and have a say about composition and colour balance. I suspect it is the only time in my day (life?) when my right and left brain hold hands and do a little dance together 🙂
And there is one more reason that art is such a vital part of my life. Art allows me to express the inexpressible; it’s balm and distraction for those times when I’m not well but able to draw/paint in stages, and the days when I can spend most of the day and night covering myself in paint are the gifts that I treasure alongside time with precious friends and family.
Do I think art is healing? You bet! Does it heal the body? I really don’t know, but it surely heals the soul. 🙂
The finished triptych