Life for me is only about healing, for several years I have had no life other than healing. There is nothing else, only a period of nothingness. In the beginning of recovery five long years ago I didn’t even feel as though I had life. I had to learn that nothingness and healing is life, it just isn’t recognized as such in today’s society. The world today does not recognize a quiet lifestyle as life, one must be very busy to be acknowledged for their existence. It is frowned upon to develop illness within the body and a persons value in society is lost, the ill are a burden. This is not my perspective or feelings it is that of the workforce and society. My body simply wasn’t made for a busy lifestyle, I accept this proudly and that is the truth.
Upon stumbling upon this quote, my thoughts began forming around my life and my art. ‘Art is not about art. Art is about life’, stated by Artist Louise Bourgeois. If my art is about life, then my art it is about healing. Through my life experiences, I have learned that if you don’t have health you don’t have life. I practiced ‘no health, no life’ before I became chronically ill, perhaps this is why I have created a healing environment within my body. My art has become focused on healing through nature in my garden and my painting practice.
A different kind of healing from others, as society expects a person to heal within two days or a week for something serious. This has never been my case in fact my healing began lengthening in duration a decade ago, taking longer and longer to heal from a cold, flu or virus. Until, I simply couldn’t heal at all! Living in a constant slow healing state has changed my lifestyle altogether. Thus I find myself in agreement with artist Louise Bourgeois, ‘Art is about life’.
Time and time again I explore the intricacies of my painting practice while writing about my art. Each time gaining perspective but not pinpointing exact words. I am constantly taken back to a time of healing to a place such as my garden, to a moment such as quiet meditation, or a colourful sight such as a bright bold hot pink peony. Moments that took my mind and body away from pain to experience something other than the constant suffering. All of these moments are all themes that have become interwoven into my paintings. My paintings are about sensations from moments of healing. Furthermore, if my lifestyle is unique to others then my art becomes all the more interesting to the viewer as I live differently from them.
When life is about healing you must find purpose within your healing. Life for me has been centred on healing through moments with genuine beauty nature in my garden. Out of nature in my garden I was offered inspiration for paintings, ultimately helping me healing through my painting practice. For the past few years the central theme always being healing. This has been a huge satisfying revelation for me as an artist. One always looks for themes in their work, I have been talking about about this often of late. However, I was only able to see the theme of healing after time had passed during recovery years and I was afforded a new perspective.
Life is about purposeful experiences that are satisfying creatively within my envelope of ability. I no longer have time or energy for that which drains my energy, only experiences that fill my cup full. I find great happiness in gathering inspiration of the genuine beauty in my garden. I have become fond of capturing nature photography to inspire my paintings. If I am having a quiet day I enjoy drawing in my sketchbook working on compositions for paintings from my photographs. When I am in rest I take to writing as a form of expression. And I love sitting with a book, preferably non fiction anytime. All of these experiences are quiet calm healing practices and respectful of my illnesses.
My art has become infused by the moments experienced while healing. Paintings not of a object or thing but a moment, an experience and a sensation. These moments are full of electric emotive charges as they are moments when I experienced something other than suffering. They are moments of relief and a huge sensation of happiness from that relief. Explaining why others feel happiness when observing my paintings as well as the use of a bold bright colourful palette which is consistent my paintings. A little hint of pink in every painting is heartfelt and emotive.
Healing for me is than different for people with other diagnosed conditions. When you have an illness that isn’t highly funded for research or treatable through medicine healing becomes something very subtle. Healing doesn’t mean getting well and back to how I lived life before the onset of the illness. Healing means becoming incrementally improved although invisible to others and in the process not worsening symptoms of conditions and disability. Thus my healing is on a very delicate balance. It can stop like the flick of a light switch, it is that temperamental. I am the only one in charge of my switch thus I must respect my body and healing always, it is never far from thought.
These days life for me is good if I can get to my studio to paint. That means I am managing my chronic illness and pain. I paint until I feel the intense strong consistent pain, when living with chronic pain each individual must learn to respect their point of stop. It could be a short time of painting, however it is painting none the less. The pain tells me my balance is tipping, the switch is being flicked. If I don’t want to worsen my conditions I stop, pace and rest. Thus I can quite literally say art is life in my experience as an artist living with disability.
At the moment, the idea that art is life is thrilling as there may be something new in my life in a decades time and thus inspire my art. I am not a fortune teller, hence I am not of ability to see the future. Although, it is a relief to know that I will have subject matter for paintings as long as I have life. Given that I live in the moment I will continue healing through my garden and paintings with hope to keep the balance within my body.