Why I Paint
I was a patient in a rehabilitation hospital recovering from a massive hemorrhagic stroke in December 2008, when my mother said, “Maybe you could paint.” It seemed like an innocent, loving suggestion, but there were so many things wrong with it. First, I am not artistic, and second, after the stroke, I am visually impaired. And did I mention I hate arts and crafts? So, I ignored the suggestion because I knew it was never going to happen.
A few years later I went to a small painting studio and participated in a painting class. The teacher, Bernadette, was patient and kind; she had to finish my first painting for me. I started to attend regularly. Sometimes my paintings resembled the instructor’s; other times, I would forget something on the left, my visually impaired side. At times, my proportions and dimensions would be off. But with each painting, I began to see improvement. I was becoming more adept at composition on the canvas, colors and brush strokes.
Soon, I found myself standing in the painting aisle of the craft store drooling over the variety of paint hues and the different brushes I could use to create things. I knew then I was hooked.
My friends and I started to gather with our painting supplies and have painting parties.
Stroke recovery is ongoing. I am always improving and making strides. Painting forces me to use all parts of my brain. I need to use hand-eye coordination. I must to listen to instructions and follow directions.
Painting has become a creative outlet for me. I have tapped into a creative part of me I never knew existed. Due to my stroke, I have had many losses and creating something improves my self-esteem. Painting has also been a way I maintain social connections, whether in a class or simply gathering at a friend’s house.
You will never see my art hanging in a museum, but I know it has been an integral part of my recovery.
For more about art therapy after stroke, see The Benefits of Art Therapy, Stroke Connection Spring 2012.