Damaged brains

One month ago, during a freak out-of-the-blue April snow storm, I slipped and fell in the middle of downtown Toronto. I fell really, really hard. I didn’t hit my head, but I felt very much in shock. Of course my first thought was, “I really have to get to that meeting” and staggered my way up the street.

It wasn’t until three days later, after colleagues kept saying, “Are you ok? You’re acting really weirdly” that I went to see doctor. I had a concussion.

I was advised to have complete physical and cognitive rest. No screens, no reading, no crossword puzzles, no light, only light music.

“Can I draw?” was the first question I asked.

The answer was yes. WHY that activity is allowable and others are not, I don’t know. Personally I think drawing deeply engages your brain.

So, I’ve been:

  • Sleeping
  • Meditating
  • Listening to podcasts and audiobooks
  • Drawing

I’ve been continuing to draw on the labels that I had started before (you know, the ones that my autistic daughter ripped up during an overload meltdown).

I’ve been drawing anything and everything: the bottle of Advil, my coffee cup, cells, how to use chopsticks diagrams, sweet and sour chicken balls, neurons, bugs.

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I’m thinking about (and therefore drawing) brains–concussions, depression, autism, learning disabilities, giftedness, left and right sides.

And while I am drawing I am ever aware of how happy I am while doing it. I don’t care about the final product or what will happen to these drawings. I am just making.

After three hellish years of an intense job while taking care of a special needs little girl, this concussion has forced me to stop and slow down and value what really is worthwhile.

 

 

 

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Sign Language

M. assessing her work.M. assessing her work.

The collaborative work that my five year old hard of hearing daughter and I are doing is the most interesting and challenging work I have done in a long time. I’ve decided to title the exhibit “Sign Language“, as it refers not only to the ASL we are learning, but more about how people can communicate non-verbally. This give-and-take (okay, more “take” in my kid’s case) relationship is a different way of working for me. I want to respect and keep a lot of her mark making and imagery, but at the same time often I have to alter or remove them for the sake of the whole piece. There is a part of my heart that is crushed every time I make a decision like this, to “erase” a precious part of her childhood. To her, she doesn’t really care. It’s just another drawing.

We are using all sorts of materials, such as acrylic, tempera, crayon, watercolour pencils, gouache. Our latest addition to our media vocabulary is pink and purple sparkly paint! M. doesn’t like the way it’s translucent; she prefers her colours bold and punchy. And sparkly.

I am finding that our use of bird imagery is especially pertinent, because before she was aided at almost four, she couldn’t hear birds at all.