After the completion of the final art exhibition this year, I began reflecting on my successes of the year. I decided to begin exploration and documentation of these successes in writing. Truthfully however where I should begin is with Jane’s Blog, as this is where the healing journey began what seems like decades ago now. When one begins a healing journey where they have lost so much of who they were to disability, the journey is explored mapless causing many roadblocks and health setbacks.
In 2018, with great frustration I began writing about my experiences as it seemed there was no-one listening to me that could provide any support, healing or assistance. Although I don’t write about this part of my journey it continues today, most of it in silence as there isn’t anyone who wants to listen. Except of course for my partner in life. My truthfully authentic experiences would shock a reader, nearly five years later there is no forward momentum only continued eye opening awareness. It took two years to begin publishing my pieces of writing beginning in 2020 with a blog on sacrifice.
Left to my own devices, I created my momentum through my writing and painting. Over time my painting began to take over my writing. I simply am not of the ability to do both. Hence, living with disability. The truth is painting is my life purpose, if I can I paint. When I am on rest or low I write as a means of continued creative expression, my writing provides me with great satisfaction. I don’t converse with people regularly, I often go for weeks or months without talking to someone other than my partner Brandon and our dogs Fionny and Dolores. The truth is my chronic illness has left me with very little voice, when I didn’t have much to begin with. My teacher voice was always a quiet one, but is now gone likely forever. Speaking is no longer done with ease. Living housebound is an invisible and isolated way of life. However, being housebound is the only way to have some life without severe setbacks to my conditions and disability.
Being housebound has begun demonstrating benefit to my life and provided me with the successes that have come my way this past year. Learning to live housebound has given me an opportunity to live life without flares and setbacks, health conditions that can last several months of time. This gives me time to have quite mindfulness in my garden, paint and share my paintings. By sharing my paintings on social media, my artist website and Jane’s Blog I have connected online with Toronto artists, art event organizers and gallerists. Thats right I have never left my house through this whole year, in fact I have left my house only on a rare occasion in five years.
The greatest challenge to me is I must network, meet people virtually, connect with new people all from devices within my house. In the beginning of my healing journey I was unable to manipulate technology at all. At one point I had to take down all my social media accounts, unsure if I ever would manage one again. I was unable to follow a conversation to talk on the telephone and ended up having to cancel my unused device, phone number and account as it was costing too much for an unemployed disabled person. As for email, all mail was sent to my husband as I had no idea when I would be of ability to read and respond to messages. However, when you put your mind to it one can with determination achieve amazing challenges no matter what.
This year I have begun reusing all of my technological devices, manage several social media accounts through modifications and attend to my own emails. The phone however remains incompatible with my disability, unnecessary as I am housebound and cost prohibitive given that I am unemployed from chronic illness and disability. Over a period months throughout this year I successfully learned how to build an artist website with a shop for my paintings. It became glaringly clear to me that people who want to buy one of my paintings had very little opportunity to view my paintings. I am sure some people didn’t even know that I sold my paintings. Now I have provided variety in buying a piece of art from me. The years variety of experiences taught me that my photos need to be varied and detailed on my website for the viewer to get an authentic viewing experience. I am still shocked by the learning curve to retrain my brain synapses with technology, especially my website. Such an outstanding achievement no matter how long it took to complete.
Throughout this year I was accepted to several exhibitions in Toronto, allowing for growth in my viewing audience and opportunity to build my Artist CV. I do not travel with my paintings or attend events, my partner Brandon delivers and picks up all of my artwork on my behalf. When I was accepted to online events these venues were meeting all my requirements and greatly appreciated. However, I learned that my work is best observed in person and too many nuances are lost through an online experience. These events have introduced me virtually to many new people in the Toronto art community, for me this achievement is monumental and a huge success. On occasion, I have even met a few people through social distancing in my garden.
One of my most successful experiences this year was becoming a Venue in the Bayview Art Tour. This event allows me to be present and socially distanced while showcasing a group of paintings. I was planning for an Art in the Garden event, when this opportunity came my way I was likely a year or two away from hosting the event I had been in early stages of planning. However, when the venue opportunity came my way I decided to test the waters. This event is the perfect event for both me and my paintings. I am already thinking about the Spring 2023 Exhibition of paintings because there is great success to build on. There are more art plans coming soon, please stay tuned.
In all honesty the greatest and most valuable experiences this past year came through talking to people about my art. Observing which paintings drew peoples attention. Understanding the audience who connects most deeply with my paintings. When I was a practicing teacher I learned how to communicate with ESL students and parents. As an artist, I honed in on how to communicate this year with my painting audience, some with an arts background and most with no arts background at all. Connecting with my audience is the most important success of the year. I need to understand who is the person that buys my paintings, why they connect with in my art and what they are looking for when buying a painting. The wealth of this information is essential to my success going forward. And as many of you know I am slowly often with invisibility in a forward momentum especially through painting.