I’ve completed 39 of 100 portraits in my 100 portraits challenge. I have no time frame to do them in. I just want to practice and keep learning how to develop my own creative expression on paper.
The images above are the my three most recent drawings. Two are cross hatching with a micron pen and the one in the middle is charcoal and white poc marker pen. Each one took about a two hours to complete and I am quite happy with them. I’m learning how much shadow to lay down, how to capture the light on the page and how to follow the form with each cross hatching stroke. It’s not always easy and I make mistakes but the act of drawing takes me out of the critical mind and keeps me steady in life.
In November I went to Canberra, where my family live and I was born, to see my mum. She has Alzheimer’s Disease and it was time to go back to collect more precious memories and to touch base on a face-to-face-heart-to-heart level. The day I arrived my mum seemed unwell and by the next day she was in emergency. She had an infection and so I spent the week at the hospital. My brother has been mum’s main carer and he is doing a brilliant job of caring for mum and it’s difficult to stop infections from happening when the person you look after can’t tell you they are unwell.
It was a difficult and precious week.
I took a photo of us holding hands, even though mum didn’t know who I was.
At one point as she started to recover, the nurses had lowered the bed to the floor and I sat beside her. My hand held in hers. She rubbed my fingers with hers, smiled for the first time in a long time and whispered, “You’re lovely. I think you’re wonderful.”
Tears welled in my eyes. I choked them back and said, “I think you’re lovely too and I love you.”
Her blue eyes turned to me once more and she said, “I love you too.”
And then she receded into whatever space one goes to when they have Alzheimer’s Disease. Her eyes grew distant and she stared around the room once more.
That is a moment I will treasure for the rest of my life. Even writing this now my heart is aching and tears are making my vision blurry.
My mum is teaching me all about living in the moment and how to appreciate the smallest murmurs with the deepest love.
Mum was still in hospital when I had to return to Brisbane but I knew I’d be back in a few weeks time to see her once again. Her light is still strong and I have more precious moments to collect when I am there. Moments that will be locked away in my heart for the rest of my life.
So, once I got home and was greeted with lavish licks from my dogs and a semi-tolerant stare from cat, I knew it was time to start capturing moments that held meaning to me through my art practice.
David, my partner, happened to be sitting down watching TV and I noticed his foot. Strange as it might sound, I knew I wanted to draw his foot and catch an impression of him in my big green chair.
I got out my micron pen and sketched his foot using extreme foreshortening and then his knee and then his other foot and leg, and then I added the rest of him at a distance.
When I finished this drawing I was delighted. It has become one of my all-time favourite drawings. It is not perfect. In fact it is filled with imperfection, but what it captures is love and life in action. I also hold a memory of this moment that I can relive every time I see this drawing. To get David to sit for me to draw him, I bribed him with an ice cream and an episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine!
And this is how creative art has been helping me to stay steady in life as I deal with anticipatory grief over my mother’s health conditions.
I also had a glimpse of creative writing again and in that moment I took to my novel with renewed interest and care.
Staying creative – drawing and writing what is in my heart and what I find precious – during the ups and downs of life brings solace to my heart.
I’m learning how important the ordinary is and how extraordinary the ordinary things in life really are.
Until next time, with gratitude for the time you have spent here reading my blog, I wish you creativity in your day.