Monica Burrow
Original Art

Blog - A Palette of Ideas - on being an artist

(posted on 17 Jan 2018)

It's been a while since my last blog entry. Life has it's ups and downs, and the last few months of 2017 have been some of the strangest I have ever experienced. There is a big commission on the easel that clients are waiting patiently for with understanding and I'm almost able to get back to it.

In December I spent a month in hospital totally focussed on treatment and the process of trying to heal after finding out I had something potentially life threatening going on. Isolated from all except masked and familiar family and friends, I did some daily exercises to the beat of The Stones, read books, and used a great set of Faber Castell pencil crayons and three colouring books to mindfully stay in the moment after my treatment while waiting for signs that the improvement in my faulty numbers would begin.

The art I was making was different than my usual in that I was not creating the image. I used photo reference on my phone in order to get colours, light sources and shadows to look accurate. I was playing colour against colour, light against dark, creating dimension and passing the hours until I could go home.

Part way through the treatment, the sight in my right eye began to be compromised and it was two weeks before I could see someone about it in the hospital between Christmas and New Year holidays and the sheer volume of others who needed the eye department's services. I decided in relation to everything else what while the eye was a priority for me as an artist, that life itself was bigger. I reminded myself that many artists have had sight compromises and have adapted.

Today I discovered that the issue will resolve itself and I was reassured that I would be able to see as well as before.

I realized that art and having the materials in my hands during the last month was a great part of what got me through the time, made me hopeful, and made the weeks pass more quickly.

At this time of year in order to keep consistent light on the easel, I paint on sunny days when there is natural light to keep the colours and values accurate to what I want and consistent from work session to work session. I got home and looked at the commission which is about one third finished. I still liked what I saw. I am eager to get back at it as soon as I can. Losing my health whether temporarily or permanently is one thing, but the important discovery was how important painting is to me in my life. It is an even larger priority than I had ever suspected.

It was a good Christmas actually. My family stepped up to support me, to create their own version of Christmas at home, to show me I was valued beyond what I ever believed. Between Dec 21st and Jan 8th I recieved 10 blood transfusions. One came from four strangers who went into Canadian Blood Services and gave - on Christmas Eve of all days. A day when many are caught up in, and busy with, last minute preparations.

These things and the presence of painting in my life are gifts that cannot be wrapped with a bow and put under a tree. Whatever the future brings, I will always remember that and try to put a little into each piece I paint.

Happy New Year - may 2018 bring good things for all of us and keep the important things in life at the forefront.