Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Push and Shove: learning when to let go

As a spoonie there are days and even weeks when you have to make the call between pushing through and giving in to you need to rest. These last couple of weeks my migraines have flaring so drawing has been out of the question and I have missed you and all of the creatures of the Whimsical Woodland terribly.

Living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a complicated business. There is a reason that particular c-word in in the title. I've learnt more in the last 5 years than I thought was humanly possible but most of all CRPS has taught me that balancing my plans against my obligations means that sometimes I have to let extra things Go. This dear reader is known as the practice of pacing. This past few of weeks it has been my art that has been set aside but that does not mean that I have let go of the Woodland all together. 

Instead of drawing character studies I have been writing down my ideas because if you don't jot down your ideas once you feel better you'll find their hazy threads difficult to pin down. A hard lesson I learnt at Art School when I stubbornly insisted on working on my photographic pieces without first working through my ideas. By my second year I discovered the splendid practice of proposal writing and it helped me to work through my ideas. This has meant that this last couple of weeks I've simply switched up my creativity and used it to cope with my flare up in a different way. There is always a way so keep on keeping on lovely readers. Don't forget to leave any requests in the comments below or on my Instagram account where you can follow my spoonie journey.

If you or someone you know lives with a chronic or mental illness of any kind and you would like to learn about pacing please go to www.butyoudontlooksick.com to read The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. It is by far the most honest, affirming and helpful explanation of how we live with chronic illness day to day.

The creatures of the Whimsical Woodland decorate their tree for Christmas.
The Rabbits and Mr Hedgehog hang baubles but it looks like Freddie the
Fox kit isn't quite up to the task of hanging the lights. 
I hope to be back with you in the Whimsical Woodland very soon and I hope this quick sketch makes up for my recent absence. Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season and I look forward to introducing you to more members of the Whimsical Woodland in 2015. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Special Request

A new friend has come to live in the Whimsical Woodland, this chubby little red fox kit.

As you know I love to draw and the most common advice you hear from successful artists is to make what you love. I love animals so for the most part that is what I draw. This week I have had a special request from a friend on Instagram to draw a baby red fox. 

I have had a problem with foxes since I was a child and when I first started this request I found it extremely hard and wanted to give up. I have spoken to you a lot already about using creativity to cope with chronic illness. To find a sense of purpose, distract yourself from and simply enjoy yourself, so I thought this week I could use this opportunity to talk to you about how others areas in which you can use art to heal and move on. 

You've all noticed that I absolutely love rabbits. I have had a pet rabbit for most of my life. When I was about 10 years old my rabbit Snowy, who happened to be the first pet rabbit I ever had, was taken by a fox. I got him from Santa the Christmas before I started kindergarten, I was 4. I was completely heartbroken when it happened and to this day I am still filled with sadness and anger each time I see a fox. This is unfortunate because they are everywhere at the moment, on just about every dress, t-shirt, handbag, mug and every other trinket you could imagine. More importantly they are an animal just as important as any other, so as an animal lover having such feelings towards any animal doesn't sit comfortably with me.  

A chubby little red fox has moved into the woodland, I
hope his mum, dad and siblings are close behind him.
It's safe to say that I have a problem with foxes but now that we have gotten the angry sads out of the way let us think about how I could take my own advice and draw through it even if it has nothing dealing with pain, fatigue or frustration. This year particularly, I have found that drawing animals I haven't drawn before (which aside form rabbits is most of them) stimulates my brain in a similar way to my brain training. So I decided to use this to work through these feelings I have and try to move on from this trauma I experienced so long ago. Let's face it, it is about time.

I sketched a lot of foxes in graphite, my favourite medium. After a while I started to see the arrangement of shapes that made up the fox. A series of triangles, set up in the right way made a great fox. I then started to focus on the colours, the golden shades of orange interspersed with black and white. Mr Fox really was shaping up as a dapper fellow and I began to see that there was a cute side, just. Their bright eyes and coy expressions really captured my attention and I started to think about where they would fit in in the Whimsical Woodland.

Art gets us through so many things. The process of art making helps us make sense of those wispy notions that swirl around our minds when we are quiet and pensive. Simply materialising these thoughts is even helping me change my attitude. I wouldn't say I was cured yet but it is safe to assume that more foxes will be moving in to live with the rabbits in the Whimsical Woodland.