With chronic pain, you have to find your coping mechanisms, the things that speed up time or make it a little less distressing. As many know, gaming is one way that I usually achieve both of those aims. Comfort food also helps from time to time, too. A year or so ago I decided to brave the hand pain and pick up something I had not done in easily ten years, if not double that – drawing. So, this blog post will be a little bit about my journey so far, along with how my drawing has progressed. Let’s look at my journey of drawing in chronic pain. Though this is way more about the drawing than the pain, for once.
Starting Off Slowly
As I was beginning to plan my own fantasy novel #fjfantasybook a year ago, I decided to start slowly with drawing. After all, one of the reasons I hadn’t picked it up for so long was my hand pain. With a pack of twelve kids crayons and some A3 printer paper bought from my wife’s workplace, I began with drawing maps for my created world. This was pretty much risk-free, I was never much good at animals or people.
But sketching these maps ignited both my imagination for my novel and my enjoyment of drawing. Yes, my hands hurt doing it, but so long as I kept my compression gloves on and my deep heat cream on standby, time went surprisingly quickly.
Early, Rough Gaming Characters
One thing I’ve admired for a very long time is art based around the games I play. Initially I only saw SWTOR drawings, but then others posted Dragon Age series ones, and since playing FFXIV I’ve noticed many people do traditional or digital drawings too. While I could not aspire to be on that kind of plane, I had to start somewhere.
Looking back now, I can see just how rough these are. But in all things you start off bad (or, at least “not really great”). But I had overcome a drawing fear: humanoids.
As Fibromyalgia usually keeps me bound to my house and/or garden (See: What’s a Day with Fibromyalgia Like?), getting “real life” inspiration for drawing was difficult. In the end, I found some photograph greetings cards for some animals. Naturally there are search engines for such things. But turning my computer on when drawing risks getting distracted by drawing!
Painful, but Necessary
However this is a good example of why drawing with chronic pain is really tricky. Anything involving hair, fur or feathers really hurts my hands. Fur especially, because I have to draw a lot of tiny lines. Normal “sweeping strokes” or even filler colour doesn’t hurt as much as that. But the tiny details really matter and can make or break a drawing.
A SWTOR Gift for a Friend
This year I also picked a random SWTOR-playing friend and chose to draw her Mirialan Jedi, Khessya. It wasn’t going to take many weeks originally. But then that character is married to Theron Shan, so I felt it was more representative to draw both of those together. That added months to the drawing. Turns out, drawing white-skinned people is way harder than green-skinned ones. Who would’ve thought?
In (re)learning to draw, I had to decide from the outset not to pigeonhole myself. So I’ve tried to do things in different styles. One of those is a style of art I can’t quite pin down. My young daughter (NJ) watches a variety of kids shows, but one of them is True and the Rainbow Kingdom. The humanoid characters in that have huge heads, tiny bodies, button noses and eyes so big they could swallow you whole. And most of them are really cute. So I made an A4 poster for NJ’s bedroom of that show:
My LOTRO Characters
Once I had figured out this style, whatever it’s called, I did an experiment to try to draw my LOTRO characters in that style too. I think it turned out pretty well!
So Long, and Thanks for all the Frozen
For a while NJ was obsessed about the Frozen movies. She still enjoys them and role-plays with Frozen figurines, but at least that obsessiveness has moved on to something else. But, I ended up drawing an Elsa for her, to push myself and do another style. The problem is, once you’ve drawn Elsa, you can’t blame my daughter for wanting an Anna. Then I decided I wanted to draw the cute Fire Spirit from Frozen 2, having not drawn any style animal for a long time.
The real issue is that I’ve gotten better at drawing since doing Elsa, especially. I’m trying to resist re-drawing her!
But I have to say that through these three drawings, I’ve improved what I do. I’m also finally learning how to temper how much drawing affects my hand pain too.
What’s Next, Then?
That’s pretty much my last year of drawing in a nutshell. I think I’ve improved in that time and, in some aspects, by quite a lot. Before my daughter requests another Frozen character, I’ve started a special drawing attempt for my wife’s birthday present. I also intend to go back and draw some of my SWTOR characters again, to see my progress. And then likely my LOTRO ones too.
I won’t ever do commissions, but I am happy to take suggestions and ideas of what I could draw next, so feel free to ask!
To see my varied-quality drawings on DeviantArt, hit the button below.
Drawing aggravates my hand pain, but nowhere near as much as typing. If I get my posture wrong, I can also do my back in. But on the whole, it is relaxing and, now I’m starting to see improvements, it is also satisfying. I have now worked drawing into my Fibromyalgia Daily Routine. Hopefully I can continue to develop and improve it, while making sure I only do it when I want to, not because “I have to finish something”. Turning rest into stress isn’t a good idea, in case you weren’t already aware!
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A 30-something Shadow Jedi, married and have a small daughter. By that I mean "young", not just "short". I have a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia andI play LOTRO, SWTOR and FFXIV and blog about two of them. Social Media has connected me with so many people and some of those have become amazing friends too! As a hobby I am relearning drawing, which you can see on my DeviantArt profile.
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