Making art with a chronic health condition

 

Recently, I was asked by reader Annalies {of @blossom1975 on Instagram} for my advice on making art with a chronic health condition.

I had to be honest and say I didn’t feel qualified to answer that question, since I don’t have personal experience of it. So, with Annalies’ permission, I turned it over to our lovely community on Instagram, and there was an outpouring of support and advice for her question.

I decided to turn it into a blog post as I know there are many out there who deal with daily health issues that make art making a challenge, and who might benefit from or appreciate knowing they’re not alone and that there are ways!

Shilpa Agashe

Shilpa Agashe

“I have chronic migraines and can lose up to 2 weeks in the pre attack, migraine and post attack phases due  to lethargy, lack of energy, pain, other physical symptoms. It’s not possible for me to work on my core painting projects at such times so what I have worked out for myself is:

1- Develop a style of work that’s less resource intensive. I work with fine liners on paper and make line there’s hardly any clean up and I can work cuddled up in bed,on the sofa etc.

2 – Work small. Working small allows me to finish a piece which results in a positive cycle of gratification rather than ‘I can’t do this’ frustration.

3 – If I can’t paint or draw I might prep. Get masking tape on paper, make off my edges, cut paper. Things that will help me jump straight into painting when I back to normal.

Shilpa Agashe

 

Tracey Downing

“I have a chronic health condition and I find art making really helps… Just do what you can when you can and be kind to yourself.”

Tracey Downing

 

Gillian Bacon

Gillian Bacon

“I have the same struggles and the pain can get me so down that I lose my mojo. That’s the reason I do [Tara’s] courses – they help to give me spark and when I can’t move I can still sit and watch the videos.

It’s also about not stressing yourself when you can’t manage stuff. It’s also nice to have a good support group.”

Gillian Bacon

 

Carla Callier

Carla Callier

I pick the art supplies I truly love and have fun with. If art making feels like a chore I don’t want to bother. I can also be honest with myself on what do I feel like making, not ‘what do I think others want to see’.

If I’m having an off day I don’t stress about not feeling up to creating that day ( or days). Too much I see a stress on ‘You must make art every day to be a real artist!’ That doesn’t work for everyone and it stressed and burned me out.

I also make sure to stop what I’m doing if I start to feel tired. It can always be finished later. I am better off for being aware of what works for me and makes me feel creative.

I love watching artists on YouTube and looking at art on Instagram because it inspires me to create. It helps remind me I really do love it and to want to make a little something even if it’s only for five minutes. As long as I’m trying, being kind to myself, learning, and enjoying what I am making nothing else matters.”

Carla Callier

 

Pia Juul

Pia Juul
“My hardest work is acceptance that whenever I’m on a roll – something happens. Then after the break, my idea threads are broken too and I can’t just pick up what I was doing before. I then begin something new or I’m stuck.

In the latter case I have various strategies, but multiple types of crafts are often the solution; I don’t have to PUSH at the painting even if that’s what I meant to do, because I can go weave a bit or spin some yarn. I recently started learning to make papermache figures.

Shifting to something new makes my brain happy and sets ideas flowing on that topic, resistance forgotten. And once I’m rolling it’s easier to switch back to the painting because paper glue needs to dry, so there is wait time.

Another thing I’m trying is to accept that although it’s MAKING that is my goal, some ideas may not have to make it that far.

Perhaps acknowledging the spark, making a sketch, a colour swatch, a detailed note in my workbook and making a new inspirational pin board from the couch on the topic is enough – the joy of working the idea in any way possible.

Another lesson is, when you have a good day, don’t go all in and try to gain the terrain you lost. Take breaks before your mind thinks you need them, schedule them even so your body knows it can rely on you.

Oh, and having a space where projects can be laid out forever without having to tidy for guests or dinner = GOLD. In case of multiple crafts = a workstation for each is even better. Yes you deserve it.

Ok, just one more thing: Break a task into micro steps, make a list if need be to get them out of your head. And fork the housework. Bottom of list, always.”

Pia Juul

 

Do you have a chronic health condition that challenges you when it comes to making your art? What do you do to support yourself in that? Please do share any thoughts and advice in the comments!

 

 

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