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Art Heals: An Introspection of My Mom’s Life

healing tape resist art

It was a beautiful – and powerful – sight for me. My 65-year old mom and my 8.5-years old Pari sitting at the same table and making art. Pari does art often, that’s not unusual. But, convincing mom to do art was not so easy. And, I’m glad I did so, for those two hours or more that mom dived into the process of making art, was healing, to say the least. Healing, not just for her, but for me too.

I’ve often told her to join Pari and me to paint, draw or anything such. And, she’s mostly resisted except for a couple of occasions when she made (partially) a paper mache bowl, and some leaf doodles.

art heals

This time, as she visited us here in Goa, I was keen to involve her (in art). She’s been tired – mentally and physically – of her own health, boredom, relations and such. And, tape resist art that we’ve been making a lot of these days, was the perfect opportunity. I implored to her that she doesn’t have to be great at drawing or painting to make a beautiful painting. Tape resist art is about having fun with colours (and tape of-course); I showed her some of those that we’d made. She loosened up…..

Was she able to remove some of the mental blocks…..?

healing art

Well, that evening, in our art studio I could see she was immersed in the process. She was enjoying it. She was feeling relaxed. And, relieved (she could be herself?). Her focus was unwavering; the calm on her face very visible. She was seeking input from Pari, which Pari loved giving (it boosts her confidence and self esteem). I was facilitating and encouraging. Her urge to see her painting come out beautiful was understandable. She has never considered herself good at art/drawing – though she’s done some gorgeous embroidery work in her young days. I suggested her to try water colours and then glass colours – to make her artwork pop.

The result was spectacular, I think. She was satisfied, too.

tape resist with water colors

I felt blessed to know something else that I was really hoping for in my heart of hearts. I asked her, “…so mom, if you can recollect, what was it you were thinking of when making that art -over the last two plus hours.” She took a few moments. And then replied, “nothing really. I was only focusing on the colours and on making my art look good.” I prodded, “did you, even once, think about those things (I pointed out to the ones that have affected her peace) – those nagging thoughts.” “Not once”, she said.

She also slept better – she told me this the next morning. She also told me she’d like to buy some paint, brushes and drawing/painting sheets before she left for Delhi. She added, she’d really like to get those glass colours. I was delighted and promised to get as soon as possible. After a couple of hours, I see Pari and Mom heading out to the nearest shop that stocks some basic art supply. I resisted, “why do you want to get from that shop; they hardly have anything worthwhile. Let’s go to that proper art supply store in couple of days.” But, they had made up their minds. Off they went and returned with two packs of glass colours, drawing books, colour palette etc.

tape resist art with glass colors

Pari’s tape resist art with water and glass colours

Art was able to draw out the child in my mom. The child that was lost ever since she was a child. Well, yes, she never got to be one. She never got an opportunity to draw, paint, play. She was a girl child, 65 years ago, in the male-child worshipping Indian society. The gender bias is prevalent even today. But back then, it was like a curse that maligned even a woman’s perspective. It clearly afflicted the thinking of my mom’s mother. To her, her daughters were people (?) who would cook, clean, serve and basically get trained to be married away and serve the husband’s family – at age 12 or 13 or such. The feminine of this earth deserve more respect and love.

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So, that evening, even though for merely couple of hours – she was able to forget her pain – physical and emotional. Seeing her imagination take shape on the canvas brought a subtle sparkle in her eyes. She hesitantly expressed her joy and accepted – albeit reluctantly – that art can be for her.

Art does heal. Art does to your brain waves what prayer or meditation or music does.

Her healing healed me, too, at ‘some’ level. This healing has to continue….

What are you healing from, right now? Which process is working for you?

Art? Music? Prayer? Nature? Meditation? Healing circles? Crying? Poetry? 

tape resist art with water colours and glass colours

Pari’s (top) and Mom’s art side by side…

That text in Hindi (centre of the painting) translates to: Om Sai Namoh Namah (the mantra mom recites)

Some more views from Pari’s art..

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swirls and curls…

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makes me want to write poetry…!

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{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Padma September 9, 2014, 9:22 pm

    Rashmie,

    My healing is in my plants. This house we moved to, has a yard and every day, every hour I take short sojourns – quite like bathroom breaks 🙂 – to touch feel and talk to my plants. I make sure I touch the earth each time, doing a bit of weeding, some digging.. It takes me to my zone. I wish my landlord had the foresight to plant some trees earlier. I’ve planted a few, but it’ll be a while before I can get to my true healing place, hugging the boles and sleeping under their shade.

    Padma

  • Rashmie September 11, 2014, 12:08 pm

    Oh, Padma – you wrote as if speaking for me! I feel the exact same way about my plants and spending time in my yard. By comparing it with “bathroom breaks”, you said it for me. That’s exactly what I do – I loiter around in the yard in between cooking, in between putting Sufiana to sleep, between my writing and every so often. It’s where I go to refill myself. Thankfully, my yard has quite a few trees – two mango trees, one cinnamon tree, and then avocado, guava (small still), banana, coconut, papaya. The cinnamon tree is my favourite. It’s a resting, feeding and playing place for dozens of birds.
    Watch your plants grow – it’s a sweet sight/experience – as if seeing our kids grow…

  • Sujata Panda September 13, 2014, 12:28 pm

    Suddenly while taking tea with my daughter in London we were going through your website I saw your mother doing painting n read your thought about your mother.Rashmie,your thinking is absolutely right.I am also going through that phase .I know your mother very well.Tell her about me.How is Manish?My husband Dr Bijay kumar Panda was your family physician at the time you were staying in Balasore.I don’t know whether you remember or not.Convey my best wishes to your mom.

    • Rashmie September 19, 2014, 10:56 pm

      Dear Sujata Aunty,
      Sorry, I’ve taken time to reply. The internet connection at my place has been lousy.
      But, wow – I’m so thrilled to hear from you after so many years. Ofcourse I remember you and Dr. Panda. I clearly remember both of yours faces :-); your home, the clinic that we visited in your place. Wow, it’s nice to be reminded of my home town – the place where I was born and grew up.
      I kind of know what you mean by going through a similar phase. I feel that picking up on any of your hobbies or cultivating new hobbies would help. During the years that mothers (specially your generation) raise children, they tend to get confined to home and child rearing and keep their own interests aside. But, once the children are out and about and no responsibilities to take care of, it can be fun (and almost a rebirth) to go explore your own life. I keep telling this to my mom.
      I’ll email you to take your phone number so mom can speak with you. She’d be delighted to. 🙂
      Thank you for reading my blog and for connecting with me. I feel blessed 🙂

  • Bhaval September 15, 2014, 8:13 am

    hi rashmie,
    its Bhaval
    i have been following your blogs since last 2 months, writing for the first time though 🙁
    i am unschooling my son krishiv 6.5 years
    really in love with your way
    my son is too much into art, so this share of yours is real inspiration for me to be with him for longer hours
    thanks

    • Rashmie September 19, 2014, 11:01 pm

      Hi Bhaval,
      Happy to have this note from you and glad to know you’re unschooling your son.
      The exploration of art can be so meaningful for you and your son together. You can be with him just letting him be, he playing with his art. I tell Pari to enjoy the process without worrying about the product in her art. She’s sort of internalized this now… 🙂
      Thanks for being here.

  • Miquela September 17, 2014, 11:22 pm

    What a beautiful post. I’m so happy that you were able to help your mother find peace while introducing her to an accessible means of achieving it again and again. Art is truly therapeutic.

    I’ve been working on an oil painting of my daughter, but I’ve stalled out now that I have the sketch on the canvas. I’m afraid of “messing it up” by applying paint because I let worries rule me. This post gives me courage just to start, not to think, so be absorbed in the process and let what may come of my efforts. Life will not stop if I ruin, and life probably won’t take a miraculous upturn, but I’ll certainly feel better. Or I’ll learn something at the very least.

    And oh how I envy you ladies with your gardens. Only a couple of more years to hang in there until my family and I are able to get one of our own. In the meantime, we are crowding our balcony with plants (frangipani, kumquat, jasmine, bougainvillea, pomegranate tree, aloe vera..)

  • Rashmie September 19, 2014, 11:12 pm

    Dear Miquela, my friend from Cairo – my heart did a happy dance to see your comment. I’ve missed reading your thoughts. How are you dear one? Last time you wrote to me, you’d shared about the new one that was going to arrive in your life – back in Feb, I think. I hope all went well.
    An oil painting of your daughter – Soëlie? Go ahead and colour it…don’t be afraid to mess it. It’ll be a beautiful mess, no matter what. And, it’ll give you courage to paint many more portraits of your daughter.
    Your potted garden sounds (and looks in my mind’s eye) beautiful. Kumquat? What plant is that? I’ll have to google to know.
    Stay in touch. 🙂 Much love and hugs…

    PS. I LOVE frangipani and we have so many varieties here in Goa 🙂

  • Miquela September 20, 2014, 8:29 pm

    @Rashmie

    It feels good to “be back,” Rashmie. I’ve been following along since I gave birth to my son Kainam on March 3rd,* but this is the first time I’ve commented. I was thrilled to read about your new home in Goa and that you have been (had been at the time) exclusively breastfeeding Sufiana. That post encouraged my convictions to start Kainam on solids later (because of weight gain problems we started Soëlie at 5.5 months and it was a decision that I was never peaceful with) than the accepted (or rather “recommended”) 6 months. We went to France (to visit my in-laws) this summer and just returned to Egypt less than 3 weeks ago; it was a lovely and much-needed break.

    Now, however, it is time to settle into a new routine, one that makes sure I feed my children–emotionally, physically, and spiritually–my spouse, and myself! To do all of that, I must start with myself, hence the push to get back into art. And you, my friend, are one of my prime inspirations for doing that; it is always such a joy when one of your posts pops up on my feed.

    I took your advice and started the underpainting for Soëlie’s portrait. I haven’t messed it up so far. 😉 In fact, I’m happy about the way it is coming along. I’ll post a link to my progress tomorrow.

    ________
    * He was due March 3 according to the Dr at my first visit, but then she said he would be due around Feb 26. When the 26th rolled around, and there was no sign of him, she said we would give it a few days and then see if it would be necessary to induce, which I’m dead against. I was worried and upset because I had dearly wanted a home birth but had bowed to the unanimous wishes of everyone else involved to have a hospital birth. And then to talk about induction! On the day of my appt, I sat on the floor of the kids’ bedroom and meditated; I acknowledged my worries and fears and handed them over to my God. He “cleaned” them and gave them back to me. I sat a few minutes more and then rose to shower for my appt. My water broke on the way to the bathroom! Kainam was born 8 hrs later, after a very “easy” labor (my husband did accupressure on me for every contraction and that helped so much). I pushed three times and he was there, no tearing, no medical intervention, a truly wonderful experience that I was and am at peace with. 🙂

  • Miquela September 21, 2014, 1:47 pm

    @Rashmie

    And as promised, here is the link: http://mnfaure.livejournal.com/363197.html

  • Rashmie September 24, 2014, 11:36 pm

    Dear Miquela,
    I feel special and honoured that you’ve shared your birth story (even though in short) in this comment. I could almost visualize – you sitting cross-legged and meditating and then your waters breaking and you progressing towards receiving your baby, with each contraction. Since it’s been only a few months that Sufiana came into my life, listening to such stories make my own (baby’s birth) come alive – as if I’m right there; as if time never passed.

    Also, I saw your painting on your journal/blog pages. It’s turned out beautiful and am glad you’ve decided to paint it further. You’re so talented 🙂
    How nice that you got to take a break by visiting your in-laws in France. it’s a gorgeous land. I hope to be able to visit some day!
    Thank you for the affirmation on breastfeeding beyond 6 months. I’m still breastfeeding Sufiana almost exclusively. She eats solids but I nurse her first and then offer the food. She at times likes to explore and other times she may not eat much at all. So, on those days, she’s completely on my nursings. I’ll continue to nurse her this way for a few more months. Plus, I’ll continue to breastfeed her for as long as possible.

    Thank you for your heart-felt connections and sharings here. Much love.

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