Learning to see, feel, and create

It’s been so difficult to get back into my art-making since my eye surgery 3 weeks ago.

It was a minor surgery and in some ways my vision is better than before the surgery, but it triggered a host of traumatic emotional and physical memories from 2013 when I first discovered I was losing my vision and underwent 3 very scary and difficult eye surgeries. The new lens they put in my “good” eye this time changed my prescription, making my middle distance vision clearer, but my near vision very blurry. So I’ve had to relearn how to use my eyes and the various devices that I use to compensate for my vision impairment. Things like how I use my phone and glasses (I now have 2 pairs, ugh!), and knowing how near or far to position myself in order to see best.

It’s been a lot and everything’s felt confusing, slow, and exhausting. Life with chronic illness and disabilities is rife with these kinds of interruptions that challenge me not just to process past and recent trauma, but also to learn new ways of doing things so I can get back into flow again. And the fear that if I don’t or can’t adapt again, I’ll lose more things that sustain me and give my life joy and meaning.

Finding my way back through nature and movement

Being out in nature and moving my body have always been regulating for me, so that’s what I’ve turned to these past weeks. And this week I’ve finally felt in my body enough again to be able to create.

My vision loss is constantly challenging me to let go more and more of the idea that any of us sees things “as they are”, along with any desire as an artist to try to replicate things “as they are.”

We see things as we are.

With these small multimedia artworks on watercolor paper, I wanted to explore and capture the fragmented-ness, confusion, and tangled mess of memories and fears that I’ve been processing alongside the sense of open landscapes, blustery skies, still reflections, autumn colours, and rich textures that have felt so grounding and healing.

I’m learning so much from nature itself – about the joy of pattern, colour, texture, and movement. And about feeling my sensory experiences afresh and liberating myself to create what I feel, not just what I see.