Art May 25, 2015Posted by Judy in Musings.
Tags: art, breast cancer, painting
Two weekends ago, I spent a lovely day at Allerton Park with about 30 other cancer survivors at the first annual Cancer Survivor’s Retreat. It was a pretty typical retreat, replete with key note speakers, break out sessions, yummy snack foods, a nature walk, and lunch. Aside from getting to spend time with fellow cancer survivors, it was just nice to get away and do something just for me. My favorite part of the retreat was the art therapy class. I wasn’t planning on taking that class, but when I walked past the room, it called my name. I have to say that the directions that were given were quite vague. “Choose some colors that you like. Place the lighter colors in the center and darker colors on the outside.” That was it, the totality of the directions. I slowly chose my colors, hoping that maybe more directions would be given. Such was not the case, so I picked a yellow color and started smearing it around the canvas. Then I picked the fuchsia color and smeared that around.
It did not look good, at all!
I looked around and was mortified to see that everyone else seemed to be doing these lovely pieces, and mine was horrid. It looked like my 2 year old was fingerpainting. (Not that his fingerpainting is bad. It’s just that he’s two, and I’d rather not paint like a two year old, ya know?) Not wanting to give in, I just kept adding colors and layers and tweaking things here and there. I didn’t have a vision at all of what the painting would be. Mostly, I was just trying to make it look better than horrid. I worked at it for a long time. I found that most people around me seemed to be at a stopping point, and I just kept dabbing and adding until I was able to sit back and think, “Okay, this isn’t horrid anymore.” At that point, we were given the final directions, which were still obtuse.
“Draw two eggs. Draw a small circle on top of each egg. Draw a triangle at the bottom. Now fill it in with some branches.”
Suddenly, we all realized that we had been drawing a background for two birds sitting on a tree branch. While I was pleased that I’d figured that out, I wasn’t convinced that the birds would work with my painting. Again, I sat for a long time, thinking, and then adding the birds and branches. In the end, I was really happy with how it turned out. Everything came together so nicely, which wasn’t at all what I expected.
As we were sharing our work, it occurred to me that the painting was a good representation of my life the past 18ish months. Things started out nicely, and before I knew what was happening, cancer came and smacked me in the boob and turned everything into a disaster. It was so disastrously ugly that I sat back thinking, “How can this be!” Slowly, I worked through the surgeries and treatments, getting through one day at a time. I haven’t yet reached the point where I am pleased with the outcome, but I’ll keep working on that.
Eh, I guess that last paragraph is a little corny. The painting really wasn’t intended to be representative of anything. The whole goal was to just give us a way to unplug and tune in to ourselves for a bit. The whole process was very calming and allowed me to be pensive. (I’m thinking this might be a good technique to use with the babes when they get too wild and crazy. Just give them some paints and a canvas and have them quietly work. I have yet to try it, but I’ll let you know how it goes.) And apparently, a little bit corny with my reflections on life 😉
So this post would be useless without pics of the painting. I’ll tell you that the colors in the pics are not accurate. I could not for the life of me get the colors to come out right or get them in focus, even. If you want to get the full impact, you’ll just have to come for a visit =)