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Cat Art

I had a realisation at the end of last week.

I love drawing and painting, and I want to draw and paint more.

You might think that's fairly obvious, but to my poor grief addled head, not so much.

I draw and paint as and when I can. And that isn't very often. The mixed-media ladies that I paint take a long time to do. Layered up over time. I realised that I wanted to be able to draw most days, quick sketches, small studies, in order to get better at drawing and to draw more easily.

But most importantly, so that I can feel happy.

Drawing makes me happy, and all things considered over the past few months, I feel like I need some of the happy.

So I ordered myself a moleskine artists sketch journal that I can keep in my pocket, and some coloured pencils. This morning, I woke up and said to myself, Betty and Eric and Ernie (yes, I talk to my cats) "Let the happy begin!"

Dad had saved an insert from a magazine for me ("I saw this and knew you'd love it!"), all about how to draw cats using the grid technique. (my dad knows me very well). It explained how to draw a grid onto a piece of tracing paper and then put it over a photo. Then draw a grid of the same size on your paper and copy, grid square by grid square, the photo onto your paper.

This is the first stage.  You can see the grid, and the drawing I've copied from a photo of a cat.

Using this technique helped me draw the prespective of the cats features fairly accurately. After erasing the grid squares, I was left with my outline.  Bring on the coloured pencils!

The process wasn't always easy with a Betty in the house, but we negotiated a settlement pleasing to both of us (food related on both sides) and things were able to move along.

Here's my finished moggy. 

I thoroughly enjoyed drawing her and am definitely going to be using the grid technique again.

I felt happy while I was drawing.  A little bit of nourishment to heal the heart. I'm going to try and draw more often. Building up a small moleskine journal of sketch pages to help my heart heal. It's what Mum would have wanted.

Have you tried the grid-drawing technique? Did you like it?

Hello 2015

So the anger has gone.

As the clock ticked down to midnight on New Year's Eve, in the happy company of my close friends, and while eating gorgeous food, I felt myself being enveloped in a blanket of sadness. It wrapped around me in a silent attack.  Out of the blue, totally unexpectedly, it slid out from behind the chair I was lounging in and covered me with it's heaviness.

I thought I was dealing with my mum's death fairly well.  We had got through her funeral, had survived the run up to Christmas, had managed to laugh and smile on Christmas day, and had navigated all the happy, family-based traditions that go along with the "holiday season" with minimal damage to body and mind. The anger I'd been feeling about it all was starting to mellow.

And then the countdown to New Year's Eve happened on the TV.

I could see the clock.  Hear the numbers getting smaller, 10... 9... 8...

And all I could think was "NOOOOOOOOOOO!"

I felt pulled towards a new year, away from 2014. How could this be a new year already?  Mum was a part of everything up until October 25th 2014.  If I stepped over into 2015, I was moving away from 2014. The place, in my heart, where my mum was still.

And for the past few days, that deep, lonely sadness has held me tight.

I understand I need to feel all the feelings, but I find some more uncomfortable to feel than others.  I find anger powerful and sometimes unsettling and in the past have tried to push beyond it, sometimes through gritted teeth.

I find sadness heavy, and have been known to consider trying almost anything (bar stand-up comedy or watching Lenny Henry) to move through it..

But over the past eleven days there has been nothing to do but feel it all. Because I've physically and emotionally not been able to do anything else.

I've lived with M.E for twelve years and understand more than your average person about exhaustion.

But I have learned how best to flow with it. How to minimise the chances of it crippling every minute of every day.

In the past, I've been told by certain doctors who don't understand M.E. that I've been depressed and not physically ill and I've struggled to explain that it isn't my heart or mind that feels exhausted, it's my body.

These past eleven days have shown me very clearly the difference between depression and physical exhaustion.

I have felt a weariness with life that just wouldn't leave me. A loneliness and isolation that has whistled around me like a storm wind, emphasising all the empty spaces. A sense of feeling heart-broken, broken-hearted, unable to feel any love, joy or peacefulness.  I have felt broken in two, wounded, bruised, and hurting. With no desire to love life. Too full of darkness to be able to see anything more than the heavy moment I'm living in.

I have felt utterly vulnerable. Red raw. Unable to stop the pain.

For someone who usually sees the world through not just rose-tinted but full-on hot pink glasses, this has been somewhat troubling.

As well as a tad effing frightening.

A friend called me on Saturday and asked "Have you painted any of this?"


I haven't known how to paint this out.  It has felt too painful to get too close to my heart, the place where I paint from.

But, I listened to my kind friend's words and took out my art journal and pens and I painted what came out onto the page.

It is OK to feel sad.  It's OK to grieve.  I have given myself permission to let the tears fall. To emotionally curl up and lick my wounds. To hibernate for a while until I'm ready to uncurl and carry on.

I know that if I allow myself to feel this sadness, I will move through it to the other side. 

If you're grieving a loss too, I send you huge love through the internet ether. 

Wishing you a beautiful 2015.

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