Guest writer, Laura McGarity
Landscape Quilt by Laura McGarity
Young children often create constantly. Drawing, building, and making daily without the worry of practicality. I was a typical child in that I did not question my creative pursuits; I just created. The older I became the more I focused on sports, school, socializing, etc. As I entered my college years, I was persuaded to study something practical and reliable. Shortly before earning an accounting degree realized I did not want to be an accountant. But I finished for the sake of finishing and the following year I began in earnest to pursue a creative profession…interior design.
In my mind, design was a career that allowed me to use my talents but also earn a living. And for the most part this held true. Fast forward twenty years and currently I am an unemployed mother of two virtual schooling children feeling rattled in the 9th month of a worldwide pandemic.
It’s challenging. Full Stop.
More time at home meant more time scrolling my phone (both a blessing and a curse). After reading blogs and following other creatives on Instagram I decided I needed to find something for myself. An activity that would not be expensive, provided stress relief and could be accomplished while home. I began to ponder the idea of drawing and painting and creating again. It was not an immediate transformation, but I was committed to finding out if I could create again just for myself. I started assembling simple collages. I saved recycling (I am looking at you cardboard sparkling water boxes with cool designs) and began making patterns from shapes I cut out.
A few months of simple cut and paste almost child-like creations gave me confidence to make one of my few non-essential COVID-19 purchases (a high-quality non-bleed sketch book). I whipped out my markers and started making colorful patterns. Using basic lines and shapes I made a new design each day. After a few weeks I had filled half the sketch book. I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride. The art was helping wire my brain with happiness in this world of so many disappointments and canceled plans. Many motivational speakers talk about the journey and not the destination. There is truth that the process of making art was the therapeutic part, not the completed project. The weeks turned into months and I felt calmer. My anxiety decreased and I started to look forward to my sketchbook sessions. I noticed that my time in nature was more satisfying as I started drawing details in flowers and animals. I had created a positive habit.
Art allowed me to sit quietly, almost meditatively and turn off my brain. Markers flowing on the page turned off the noise. The pandemic has magnified and exacerbated different things for different people. I have noticed that my friends who were struggling to eat healthy are fighting off junk foods. Friends with precarious relationships are finding it hard to live with their spouses. Losing my professional identity from a job I enjoyed felt like I had lost a sense of who I was. Finding my way back to drawing and collaging has helped me reclaim myself.
Laura McGarity is a wife, mother, designer, restaurant owner and creative entrepreneur. She is a native Louisvillian who travels the world at every opportunity.
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