Finding Beauty in Constraints, with Hyena Sketches

These hyenas were such fun. Focusing on the “horizon line” of their backs, I really noticed how interesting their body shape is, and just how much character is conveyed in that single slope-y line of the hyena’s spine!

Constraining my creative skills

I experimented with drawing with my left hand (my non-dominant hand) and drawing with my eyes closed. At first these constraints feel frustrating, but when you relax into it, it’s actually quite freeing! Perhaps it’s because perfectionism loses its foothold when I know that the limitations imposed make it impossible to do my “best” work?

I thought about all of this while I was working. I actually love the wobbly and naive lines that happen when I work with my non-dominant hand or my eyes closed. It has a freshness and maybe even a feeling of vulnerability that draws me closer and opens my heart a bit more, which I can’t achieve when I work with my dominant hand and eyes open.

The constraints of chronic illness and disabilities

This got me thinking about chronic illness and disability, and how we perceive illness and disabilities in general as an unfortunate thing that’ll always lead to “less than” results in life. My disabilities do feel like that when I’m comparing myself against the standards of the norm, or to the “normal” body or lifestyle I used to have.

And then there are some days when I can so clearly (and liberatingly) see that my life isn’t “normal.” I’m doing a whole other thing here! Norms don’t apply.

And if I don’t have to judge myself by norms (and I really don’t have to! Yay!), then I can find and feel so appreciative of the courage and freshness inherent in adapting for my disabilities and doing it my weird and wobbly way. And there’s a delightful honesty about the vulnerability (yours and mine) that seems to really draw people closer and open all our hearts a little more.cath-duncan-social-worker-artistcath-duncan-social-worker-artistcath-duncan-social-worker-artistcath-duncan-social-worker-artistcath-duncan-social-worker-artistcath-duncan-social-worker-artistcath-duncan-social-worker-artist