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Working on an Art Career while experiencing Physical Struggles

Updated: Mar 29

A cat stretching under a lantern

Unfortunately, as artist we are not super human. We are flawed, living in a fallen world, full of grief, dying, famine, poor health care, poor food sources, and with things in our environment that are out of our control. Here are some thoughts I have pondered while looking at this topic that could be of encouragement to you. Disclaimer: If you are a physically healthy artist, this blog might not apply to you, so just skip over it or pass on to an artist friend dealing with physical issues.

Many people from all over the world are dealing with chronic illness, including long haul covid, and various autoimmune disorders and infertility etc., life and career aspirations can be a real struggle. What do we do?

Look for Support

Well, I think each person needs to take a proper assessment of their individual situation. They can rely on the medical and health professionals to help, the clergy or the people closest to them to encourage them in their health and career choices. Do they move forward, forcing themselves to commit to creating and selling or writing or whatever creative process they do or do they pace themselves or perhaps just throw in the towel? Each person must decide how to properly proceed. It is a very difficult and extremely personal decision as to how one travels such a path.

Try Not to Isolate whenever Possible

I personally have moments in my journey where I have done all of the above. I went many years not discussing my physical health but after decades of dealing with it, I find that my experiences are helping others feel less isolated. In a world where illness is increasing, we must learn to reach out and connect with others with our same struggles.

Accept that You Not Alone

I have endometriosis levels four, TMJ, a pituitary tumor, as well as many others health issues. My fellow artist with physical struggles, you are not alone. I know exactly when it feels like to struggle day by day or moment by moment, not knowing what will come next.

Have Grace on Yourself

How I cope is one day at a time. I care less and less about explaining myself to others or even seeking compassion or extraordinary help, but rather I lean into God, escape through my creative art process, find compassion for myself and have learned to go with the flow. If I need to rest that day, then I stop what I am doing and go rest. If I need to sit in the sun and get some vitamin d, but I am unable attempt my usual walk that day, then I take care of myself and sit.

Even Artist from History Struggle

The interesting thing about artist and ill health is that throughout history, artist of the past have not been without the same struggle. Cezanne, the painter was stricken with blindness and other issues at the end of his life, and he was restricted to his bed and only had scissors and paper and glue to create. Van Gogh, the painter struggled with mental health issues from the lead poisoning from the paint and depression of the lack of sells and the grief of being estranged from his father. Joni Eareckson Tada, a popular evangelist, radio host, singer, writer and visual artist, was paralyzed from the shoulders down. Which meant she had to learn to paint with her teeth. In times when I am in the worst amount of pain and distress, thoughts of these fellow artist, give me encouragement and have taught me how to exhibit grace upon myself. Maybe on your bad days, you too may consider these follow artist and be uplifted and encouraged as well.

Final Thoughts

Let me leave you with my final thoughts. Be kind to yourself, please don't worry about saying no I can't do that at this time, please consider telling those that care about you how you feel, ask when you need help and support, guard yourself against stressful situations and lastly, keep a sketchbook or journal near you. If you cannot physically paint or do your usual woodcut or sculptures then just sketch or watch an art educational video or log your feelings and frustrations or prayers in a journal. My former mentor, Dorothea Bilder once said, "that during the down times in life, try not to waste time". Not wasting time may look like leaning into God and praying, listening to ambience videos, sketching, reading, listening to soft music, sitting in the sun and getting fresh air, or simply resting. Until next time, take care of yourself creative and remember that you are not alone.

Comments, Feedback and Connecting

How do you best cope on days that you struggle? Do you have any encouraging words or suggestions for other artist? Please comment below by pressing the X and share this blog to uplift others.


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