Moments of success are a long time in the making living with chronic illness and disability, at times with much uncertainty although filled with optimism. Last year I needed to establish some successes in my new life with ME. I decided that my focus would be on my painting, a lifelong goal that had yet to be entirely fulfilled. A challenge although not impossible.
I began the challenge simply at first, working on a few successful small paintings inspired by the essence of colour in my garden which turned into several series of solid paintings. I even modified my paint to gouache so as to make the process quick with easy clean up. Then came the 12” x 12” challenge, for which I broke out my tubes of acrylic once again. The supercharged challenge came when I questioned whether I would be able to paint on this surface size with a consistent mastery, the answer I found out was an outstanding and overwhelming yes. This was a game changer! Then I had one of my thoughts that are familiar to me but always take me off guard. If I can paint this panel size surface then I can also submit my paintings into group shows. Although it teetered on the impossible, I’m possible is written in the word impossible. It all started as simply as this with a positive thought, ambition and a personal yet manageable challenge.
Just yesterday I received word that I have been accepted for a second year into a successful and in high demand Toronto summer group show out of hundreds of applicants. What an accomplishment and honour. I realized that this was where it all began, not even one year ago in July 2021. Taking a moment to review my accomplishments in a years time I was not surprised given my level of perseverance and determination but subsequently very proud of myself.
Lets talk about how I did this given my chronic illnesses, pain and disability. It comes down to acceptance, of things I can and cannot do. A real simple list that could be successfully taught as a kindergarten group lesson. For all the things I can do this is a great reward to my person and my art. Subsequently, for all the things I cannot do, I have a caregiver who happens to be my husband of nearly 31 years as well as a highly successful professionally represented Toronto artist. I accept this as part of my New ME life.
Thus my list of cannot do this, are always taken on by him without question. In fact, he has been my life long painting encourager. We now know why I had such challenge painting while working a full time career as a teacher, ME was always on my doorstep waiting to get in for its grand takeover or takedown depending on how one sees it. This is how I am able to paint and participate in art shows, a constant reliable and ever present art assistance. A dedicated caregiver.
There are many tasks that I cannot spend my energy doing because it will worsen my conditions yet they are an integral part of the process of making paintings. I thought I would share these with you as this is what it takes for me to make paintings art show ready.
Things my art assistant/caregiver does for me:
Unpacks and sanitizes all art supply deliveries
Brings new art supplies to my studio and stores
Sands all wood panels
Varnishes all paintings
Attaches hardware to all paintings
Delivers, picks up and ships out all paintings
Picks up any necessary items from event organizers
Photographs all my paintings
Preps all graphic design, photography and computer work
Supports my social media posts with editing, photography etc.
Connects with event organizers and gallerists on my behalf
Attends art functions for me when possible
Critiques all paintings
Reorganizes my studio space as needed
Sets up art tent for shows
Hangs work for shows
Minds tent for shows
Things I can do:
Paint when able for small chunks of time
What I can spend energy on is, painting. Three delightful series of paintings all with a focus on colour relationships have been discovered and executed. All a uniquely original emotive colour experience in a painting. Since last summer I have been accepted to ten art shows which is an outstanding accomplishment living with disability. These experiences have introduced me to many new artists and gallerists in Toronto without ever leaving my home. All made possible by having a caregiver/art assist, which I am ever grateful for. People living with chronic illness, pain and disability need a caregiver, it is mandatory yet many people suffer in silence alone without support. I accepted my limitations and changed life living with ME through a possible challenge creating bold and bright paintings.