Several months ago, my daughter was introduced to chronic illness. Nothing life threatening or terminal, just enough to alter her life stuffed with school, dance, competitions, boyfriend and social life to one punctuated by ambulance rides, ER visits, tests, and enough doctor's appointments that I've come to regard myself a certified waiting room consultant. Yes, we try to keep it light, in its spot in the big picture. Having been on that journey myself, I'm deeply grateful for my own illness - well, the experience, wisdom and perspective it has allowed me. The more expansive, empathetic, philosophical, aware self I have become - not the pains and annoyances of the illness itself.
A blog pal, Annie, otherwise known as Bohemiannie Art, commented on recent posts about the low-tech style (thanks Seth Apter!) projects I've been diving into with creative glee (yes, I said it, the word glee, wow) with a note saying I might enjoy watching some of Jennibellie's tutorials. I've never conversed with Jennie but from her studio in England she has been generous enough to take viewers through the steps of a variety of projects. After watching her turn greeting cards into a book I couldn't resist. Yes, I admit to it. Having, well, a lot of cards saved over the years, way too cool to throw away but not quite useful, so tucked in a box in my cozy (crowded) studio. And since my daughter has received a number of cards wishing her well, can you say 'new project?'
After a coat of gesso, leaving a few key elements showing, I chose a palette based on her favorite colors and did washes on both sides of all the cards. Then, I pulled from my stash of papers - mostly used, like the fuzzy paper bag my daughter's ballet shoes came in, tissue paper from Juicy Couture and imprinted with Free Gift, wrapping paper and my favorite textures.
I didn't really plan for signatures because my brain doesn't work that way (can you say ADD?), so I left a few cards out to compensate. I want to have half the spread a colorful art page where I'll attach my thoughts, like, "I am not my illness." Then the other side will be painted and I'll add an overlay of paper, an envelope or, who knows, different ways my daughter can add her own words to the pages. Hopefully, the end result will not only be a keepsake, but an inspiring chronicle of her journey that began with fresh lemons and is creating some fine lemonade!
Neurocardiogenic Syncope has wreaked havoc on our lives but she is stabilizing thanks to a fabulous cardiologist and medication. Though she's out of school for the remainder of the semester, she has started dancing again, dealing with school work and (finally!) going out to have fun with her boyfriend and friends. My hope is that by her 16th birthday (in a few months), she'll be cleared for getting her driver's permit. Wait, did I just say that??
Chronic illness touches many, perhaps most every person's life, at some point. It isn't so much about what happens to us, it's what we do with it, the person we become with enhanced creativity, insight, and an expanded world-view. If art has influenced your life with chronic illness, I'd sure like to hear from you!