Art

Hi everyone! I've been super quiet on here lately and I've been meaning to tell you why:

A) I'm still sick as hell. I'm actually working on getting comfortable with the word disabled and the reality of the situation, since my doctors have essentially given up on me and told me this isn't getting better. Of course, I'm still going to continue advocating for myself and trying to get at least somewhat better, but I am also focusing more on how to have a fulfilling day to day life despite this reality, which brings me to...

B) Bruno and I built a website, it's called Textillia! We've been chipping away at it as time and energy allowed for over a year and finally launched it in mid-November - a super early Beta launch - lots yet to do but we wanted to let people start using it! For anyone who knits, the easy explanation is that it's a sewing site like Ravelry... Or maybe more accurately like what Ravelry was 8 years ago when it started out! Textillia is still a fresh-baked little website, but we have big plans for it!

Textillia homepage

Over the last couple months I've had two really wonderful opportunities to participate in some advocacy projects for chronic illness and disability. One is a written/photographed interview for As We Are, and the other an audio interview for In Sickness + In health. I wanted to document them here for posterity, and to share both of these amazing projects. They go beyond looking at the illness itself, and dig deep into what it's like to live with chronic illness and disability in a world that often wants to sweep people like me under the rug.

As We Are

Ariane in purple dressBack in September a mutual friend put me in touch with an amazing young woman, Zoya Jiwa who has started a project called As We Are: style strategies to navigate health conditions. Zoya is a university student who has been living with chronic illness since she was a teenager, and started this project as a way to talk about how style and fashion can be supportive tools when living with disability, and chronic and/or mental illness. She's also been kicking major advocacy butt - she just did a TEDx talk at my alma mater, Simon Fraser University, won the university's Terry Fox award for community engagement, and was named one of this year's Fellows for both RADIUS and The Next Big Thing Foundation! You can tell she's a passionate advocate for both herself and the larger chronic illness community.

(Photo by Zoya Jiwa)

The last post might have made it sound like it, but fortunately 2014 was not all about health problems. On my better days, I slowly but surely worked on my creative projects, and looking back I actually made a lot of things! Making these things made me really happy, and let me get back in touch with myself and my creative passions. In 2013, I learned to sew clothes, and in 2014, I continued to hone my garment sewing skills, but I also learned pattern drafting (how to design my own custom fit patterns), drew a lot, published a second issue of my zine, created eight Heartgirls, and took about a zillion photos!

The moral of the story is I spent a lot of happy time here:

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A funny thing happened yesterday. After I wrote the post about how much I was struggling with answering the call, I posted it to a Facebook group of people who've come together around an online workshop we all took recently - Lisa Congdon's "Become a Working Artist". The first person to respond recommended I read The Artist's Way - the proverbial bible of how to be an artist, as they had been working through it and finding it useful.

Funny thing is I've owned a copy for at least a few years, and though I think I've cracked it open a couple times, I never made it past the intro. Alas, I've often found that when the time is right, the book finally resonates, so I went and pulled it off of my shelf upstairs. Then I sat down, and pressed on through the preamble, and both Introductions (I have the 10th Anniversary edition, so there's an intro before the intro) in full. All the way into the first chapter. 

What do you know - the time was right. From page 5:

Working with this process, I see a certain amount of defiance and giddiness in the first few weeks. This entry stage is followed closely by explosive anger in the course's midsection. The anger is followed by grief, then alternating waves of resistance and hope...

This choppy growth phase is followed by a strong urge to abandon the process and return to life as we know it.

"He who would be what he ought to be must stop being what he is." - Meister Eckhart

I unabashedly love Liz Gilbert. She just did a two part interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, and the first part aired last weekend and is now online for all to see. I highly recommend you watch it. (The second part is coming up this weekend.) This first half is focused around the topic of figuring out what your "quest" in life is, why you're here and how to make it happen.

This part really resonated with me:

Oprah:
Isn't it true though, I knew this for myself, when there came a time for me to leave Baltimore, and everybody around me was saying, "No, there's no way you're gonna succeed." I didn't hear it as much as I felt it - I felt that if I didn't move, from where I was, for whatever I was being called to, here obviously, in Chicago... I felt that if I didn't do it, a part of me would die. I felt that I would just sort of like, not physically die, but that parts of me would sort of shrivel up in some way, and that I would not be emotionally, spiritually, myself. Did you feel that?

I just came across this video of model Melanie Gaydos from the What's Underneath Project.

What an amazing, humanizing, project and video. Usually stuff like this rubs me the wrong way, but this felt different and lacked that exploitative quality (maybe because it's not a project specifically about disabled/chronically ill people?)

I love the way she talks about her body and her life so much - I can relate to her story even though her personal and health experiences are magnified by the severity and visibility of her illness, and the intensity of the history with her family...

Happy fall equinox folks! I'm so happy to be finally feeling the hints of fall arriving... Back to school has arrived a little late where I live (thanks to a long teacher's strike here), so I guess this still counts as back to school time! Even if you (or a little one in your life) isn't actually going back to school, it's easy to still get wrapped up in that feeling of possibility and wondering what the next many months will bring...

My latest Heartgirl's message feels so very appropriate for this time of year, as it can be one that brings up those feelings of wondering if you'll be accepted by your peers, if your teacher will like you, if life is going to be a struggle or if it's going to feel easy as delicious pie... Sometimes we need a little reminder of just how wonderful we really are.

lovable
~ You are so loveable! Heartgirl by Ariane K ~

I wanted to write a quick post to announce a new Heartgirl drawing, the first since I completed the original six. This one's message: You are not a lost cause.

Did someone give up on you? Did you give up on yourself? Is it all too far gone, rock bottomed right out, down in a deep dark bottomless pit that you'll never crawl out of? No, no, you are not done yet. Nowhere near out for the count. Don't let them write you off, and certainly don't give up on yourself. You have strength within you that you never knew existed... and they don't know a thing about it. If I know one thing, I know this: I am not a lost cause, and neither are you!

You are not a lost cause
~ You are not a lost cause Heartgirl by Ariane K ~

I did it! It's real! The first six Heartgirl prints are up in my Etsy shop!!!

Heartgirl prints on Etsy

You guys, I don't even know where to begin. This is SUCH a big accomplishment for me. I've dreamt of "being a real artist" for such a long time... As much as I've done art since I was old enough to hold a paintbrush, and even sold the odd painting or sewn item back in university, I was convinced it was just something I did as a hobby to pass the time.

But it isn't just a hobby - it's MY THING. It's always been my thing. And as incredibly challenging as it's been, I've finally squashed my serious case of impostor syndrome... I AM AN ARTIST!

As some of you might know, I've been working on an art project for a while now, based on a character I created almost a couple years ago. I've dubbed her Heartgirl.

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Heartgirl first showed up completely out of the blue when I took Flora Bowley's Bloom True online intuitive painting course. You can see Heartgirl in the red painting below. Though I was never particularly satisfied with my paintings at the end of the course (I don't think I even shared them online because they're nothing near "finished" in my mind, and the red one doesn't even look the same anymore aside from Heartgirl who I couldn't bear to paint over), I instantly loved her! I knew that there was something meaningful in her appearance on my canvas.

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