Friday, December 17, 2010

2010 in Review and the Healing Power of a Sketchbook

2010 started the year off on the wrong foot, literally. A fall, right before Christmas 2009, changed my life in a way I definitely wasn't expecting nor was I prepared for, as accidents have a way of doing. As you can see from the x-ray above, I shattered the ankle and also, shifted it out of alignment; this photo was right after my surgery. Broken bones can be painful, but ankles are brutal. The pain was unspeakable, worse than giving birth. And it went on and on. I was non-weight bearing for two months and when I could finally start to put weight on it, it was like I never walked my entire life and I had to relearn everything.

Pain has a way of taking over your life. I couldn't stand at an easel. Even sitting up at a desk was painful for the longest time. As soon as I put the foot down, the pain started. For several months, I couldn't read, paint, I couldn't even sketch, I couldn't focus on anything, I don't know how I got through the day focusing on my job. I was couch potato and a IPhone App Games junkie. It got me through. Pain meds just made me sick so I did without and vegged.

In March, I was determined to do something, anything, to help me get some movement back. I went back to bellydancing, hobbling on two crutches in the door, escorted by my husband. I had a walker in case I needed to grab it for balance and I struggled through my first session back. I am so grateful for Jessamina for taking me in such a damaged state. I couldn't walk but I managed a few bellydancing steps. I'll never forget when I could take my first steps again, omigod, I was WALKING, if you wanted to call it was more of a gimp.

My husband built me a new studio. Built this wonderful workbench/table that stores my mat cutter, paper/supplies and doubles as a large workspace. I hobbled around and found a stool at an antique store that I cleaned up and put a new fabric cover on so when I sit at my desk, I have something to prop my foot up with...

I started a local sketch club, so sketching became my healing process. One can have a lot of anger and frustration when dealing with a life changing incident. You go through a process and stages of confusion, anger, resignation, helplessness and a LOT of "WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME?" Sketching was my outlet. It put me on autopilot. I could sketch and create without really having to think about it, just record what I see in front of me. It kept my drawing skills and artist's "eye" in tune while my body and my psyche healed.

I joined the Art House CoOp Sketchbook Project again. It was my project, my outlet, my way of venting on the page. The pages were very thin weight, didn't hold a lot of media the challenge was the paper itself and how to conquer it... I tried things I never tried before. Collage, mixed media, even pan pastels. I made a lot of mistakes and learned from them.

I managed to take a workshop with Terry Ludwig; it was wonderful and he was such a great instructor and such a nice person. It was a struggle for me, to stand at an easel all day was brutal. Pain makes you crabby, too, but I was pleased with my accomplishments despite dealing with the discomfort coming from the ankle. The pain from taking the class and issues I was having had the doctor request a CT Scan because by October, we thought I should be showing some improvement. Walking and standing was painful, only thing that wasn't too bad was riding my bike.

CT Scan showed healed bone, but other issues. Pretty much the bottom line is I screwed it up big time and it's something I was going to have to live with.

In November I joined an Art Every Day blog, and it was a great exercise in determination for me. I filled my Art House CoOp Sketchbook during November and was left with some embellishing to do before submitting the book back to Art House.

Overall, the 2010 sketchbook and sketch outings were my therapy. It helped me cope with a lot in 2010 and gave me a creative outlet. I always kept a sketchbook on me, used them a lot for thumbnails when I paint, but in 2010, I completed one that was a project and filled a regular hard back sketchbook in a span of a few months, two in one year was a major accomplishment. It was my creative outlet and part of my healing process, not just a testing ground for a larger work. I could do them anywhere and anytime and didn't require much, sometimes, just a pen was good enough to record what I was seeing. It was my record for the year and I even tried telling stories with my creativity on the page.

Sketchbooks are an artist's best friend. Don't leave home without yours....

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