Art has gotten me through the hardest of times.
When my sister died three years ago, I was at a loss. I mean a literal loss of everything, including my mind, and especially my mind. It was a “Tower moment.” The problem was that I had never even considered her death before and I just took for granted that she would always be around. One night, shortly after her death, I sat down with a pencil and a sketch pad. For hours, I tried my hardest to draw her. I ended up in a heap on the floor above my sketchpad, crying for hours, because I could not draw her AT ALL, let alone try to catch a likeness to her. It was terrible.
My husband came into the room and asked me what was wrong. I told him that I was a “fake art teacher.” I said, “I know how to teach art, but I am not an artist.” After saying that, I started crying again because I felt like an imposter. I had been an artist my whole life.
Or I had thought that I was an artist my whole life…
But when it came down to it… I could not draw to save my life.
Are you an artist if you can’t draw?
Of course, I wasn’t thinking rationally at the time and my first thought in answer to that question was absolutely not… even though I know that there are many, varied types of artists out there, several that don’t draw. I was being irrational, and especially hard on myself. I didn’t know how to deal with grief. I’m still learning.
I completed the above drawing on the night I mentioned. It was a hard night. I really wanted to SEE my sister, but I would never be able to again unless I could draw her. It was that same night that I committed to an art practice for myself. I have drawn every day since, and I always come back to my sister.
Unbeknownst to her, she has been a source of inspiration and helped me to realize something that I would have maybe never known had she not left the earthly realm…
I am an artist!
I am a damn good artist, and I get better with practice, just as anyone who practices anything in life. I continue to practice daily because I want to be good, maybe even great some day.
Her death has taught me that there’s really nothing that I can’t do if I put my mind to it. Since that night, I have drawn her several times, with different results, but none as awful as the first. 😳
She has also taught me about perfection. Perfection isn’t what I always thought it was. I thought perfection meant having no flaws. Having flaws is always so much more interesting than having no flaws. Our flaws are what make us or break us. She has taught me that “there is no perfect here,” and I think that is PERFECT. I can’t expect myself or my artwork to be perfect. Once I was able to let go of my idea of what perfect was and allow my artwork to be, my particular art style started to emerge.
And what’s more, she has taught that we are all perfect in our own way. She took after her dad, never thought she was a “looker,” but her beauty was skin deep. She was golden on the inside. She was very giving and also forgiving. She was an optimist and always looked at things from a very bright and positive perspective, never held grudges, and kept her held held high, with a smile on her face, no matter what. Her personality commanded attention and she was so funny! She’d have the whole crew laughing uncontrollably until our bellies ached. I miss her! I have so many good memories of our times together and I am so fortunate for that.
I love to draw my memories from those times, and so learning to draw was very important for me in my healing process. I have found drawing to be very therapeutic and when I was in school for art therapy, I realized that what I had discovered was right on point!
Art is a perfect kind of therapy because it takes us out of our sadness and it requires us to be constructive. I still embrace my sadness, but I am acting on it, rather than sitting there, helplessly crying. It’s through the act of creation that my healing occurs.
I know she would be proud to know she is my muse. I also know that she would be proud of the artist I have become.