Art is a journey, much like life is. It is this journey that is important; the growth and learning that results from the experience of creating, or doing. We put far too much emphasis on the end product in art. We critique and judge. We decide if we like or don’t like art. We forget to honour the journey and the message.
There aren’t many better ways to open up a therapeutic dialogue with my kids than over a blank piece of paper with an assembly of assorted sketch pencils, paints, paint brushes and glue before us and the energy of creative potential that is so palpable. We sit together and discuss our approach to a certain topic. I reassure my girls, who are still learning to not be inhibited by what the world might think, that whatever they create–it is theirs, and it is good.
Yesterday when we sat down at our dining room table with our artistic accoutrements before us, we talked about our own personal feelings about diabetes and how we might translate that on paper using colour, images and even words. My oldest daughter, Jazmine, is a very literate 9 year old. She has ambitions of becoming a writer. Not surprisingly, she chose to employ words to express herself:
My youngest daughter, Jenna, who has lived with diabetes since she was two years old, felt it important to convey how life with diabetes isn’t all bad. She spoke to me about how she feels it should be celebrated because of how strong it makes a person. She mentioned that people should have Diabetes Parties. I found this quite interesting and I told her how I loved the idea of a Diabetes Party. She proceeded to draw this:
I had been trying to plan and visualize what I would create for several days before sitting down to actually create. It was becoming a source of stress for me. This should have been a red flag to me that I was over-thinking it. But it didn’t occur to me until I saw a message from Lee Ann on her “Diabetes Art Day” Facebook page that might as well have been addressed to me, specifically. It basically said to not plan it and over-think it, but just sit down and DO it. I am paraphrasing, but that is the much needed message I took from it. So, that is how I approached things. I knew I wanted to incorporate several mediums. I have enjoyed working with collage and watercolour pencils lately. Of course, one of my favourite mediums is pencil, so I was sure to employ that. What I created was something that, to me, speaks of the dark, isolation one may feel while experiencing a low blood sugar. I can’t claim to know what that feels like; however, I have witnessed many low blood sugars and have talked endlessly with Jenna about how she feels. When I showed Jenna where I was going with this, her face lit up as she examined my partially finished piece. She looked at me as though she felt validated. “Yes, Mom! That is how I feel!” She then added her own spin on it when she said, “…and it’s like the tree has diabetes too!” I don’t know why I made the tree like something out of L.O.T.R.–it just seemed to happen. I didn’t want the tree to be menacing–more empathetic. That is just what Jenna picked up on:
Just as an aside, this morning Jenna requested a party on her diaversary, June 9th. This year marks 5 years with diabetes. I think a party is an absolute must.
Please visit the Diabetes Art Day site to see countless more amazing creations from the global Diabetes online Community. We are a creative bunch, indeed.