What Does It Mean To Be An Arthritic Artist?

PUBLISHED IN VIBRANCE MAG MID-NOV 2015!

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As an artist, I find it beautifully ironic that the word “art” is written in the condition of “Arthritis”.

Arthritis is an “L.O.L.”. It is a basically chronic (lifelong) condition characterized by pain, swelling, and inflammation of the joints, at least. Shockingly, this internal struggle of the immune system can begin at any age, in any body, and in anybody, with little to no explanation or truly alleviating treatments. This can be extremely frustrating to live with, and difficult for those who love people like me to witness. BUT:
It is one of the Lemons Of Life (an “L.O.L.”: since we HAVE to learn to laugh at life’s irony!), and I think I could beat dear old Minute Maid with my acquired skills if we were at a county fair.

arthritic artist life
Arthritis swelling and inflammation Kayla Arielle 2015 Not every day is good But there is something good in every day!

So drink up!

And treat it like a gift. I like to squeeze the lemons in my eyes and paint the flashing sights! Ok, not literally, but it seems rather akin, the way my ailments help me to see deeper into the human condition and inspire me to create works of art in response. A 10+ year-old diagnosis (at the time) of Rheumatoid Arthritis with the new additions of depression and anxiety catapulted me to the canvas in 2010.

Honestly, seriously, what has it meant in my experience?

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•Physical pain is a timeless creation catalyst. When we create from pain, we join our ancestors in a classic dance of transformation. In these vulnerable vessels called bodies, art also aids us in grasping the possibility to perpetuate throughout time.

•Fuck-ups are O.K.: Sometimes my creaky body does things I don’t ask it to do when I’m in the middle of making some silly ‘masterpiece’… Crack, click, BLOP: there’s paint where it reeeally shouldn’t be. Oh no!
And it is PERFECT.
There’s no use crying over spilled paint, eh?! Embrace the ‘imperfections’ life hands you and learn to thrive around them.

•When being flooded with pain makes thinking and communicating verbally difficult and slow, art offers relief. I don’t need to struggle for proper vocabulary and nobody is pressuring me to give them anything. I’m at the canvas for ME, for my well-being, and can take all the time to let all my nonsense flow out freely.

•Sometimes projects must be let go of. Art can become a stress factor if left unfinished for too long, resulting in mental, emotional, and physical suffering just like with any hoarding habit. Adding this to an autoimmune disorder that is largely affected by stress means that I must learn to both commit to an idea in the moment as best I can AND give myself the freedom to let go and move on guilt-free when necessary.

•Creating with the intention to share a positive outlook/emotion helps me to diminish the fog of depression and anxiety I feel by both giving me a sense of purpose and a safe-haven to express my feelings. Try it for a pick-ya-up!

•Beauty is EVERYWHERE if you look with the right eyes. Oftentimes, I have despaired over my crooked, crippling hands, for example. Then, my best friend will passionately remind me that no matter how ugly I perceive them to be at this moment, they have created beauty that has spread love and happiness all over! At the same time, my heart is stirred by the profound beauty of my friend’s birth deformity that gave him lovely, unusual fingers and hands. I’ve learned that we must see and love ourselves with the same gentleness as other people and things.
I’ve learned that I deserve to see the work of art within myself as well.

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Gifts are given to us in the strangest of places. After 14 (diagnosed) years with RA, I’m grateful to find that both arthritis and art keep me connected to myself and to the world in meaningful ways for my seemingly unusual life situation.
It shows me my story rather parallels yours. I believe we all deserve to create our own joy in life.
You see, the catch may be, we humans sometimes have trouble practicing what we preach. Artistry, available to us all in endless forms, keeps me connected to the cycle of positive transformation that is also available to us all. When life hands you those Legendary Lemons, embrace the sting they can bring by adding a little fluidity and sweetness, perhaps! Creating helps us to open our eyes further to the keys to understanding and therefore healing the intricacies in the connectedness of all of us, of all of our collective experiences and how we process them.

In the words of the great master Leonardo da Vinci:
“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

How do you wish to connect to everything?
Thank you so much for getting through my first blog article ever!
I’d love if you continued with me in this moment by letting your heart quickly click on an original gallery of mine:

🎨 Paintings
✒ Minimalism • WIPS • Charcoal • Henna
📷 Travel Photography Across The US

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