Artful Healing: How Watercolor Painting is Helping Me Cope with Health Struggles

During life’s trials and tribulations, we often seek solace and strength in unexpected places. For me, the world of watercolor painting has become a haven of healing and renewal during my ongoing health struggles.

Watercolor painting helps me deal with my emotions and the reality of my upcoming bowel surgery. It is a follow-up to last year’s surgery to remove my colon due to severe ulcerative colitis. I will have the remaining part of my rectum removed because of painful complications. This also means the surgeon will permanently sew my bottom closed. It’s been a lot to wrap my mind around!

I have been creating watercolors for much of the year now. This has been a new medium for me, as I’ve typically only used acrylics or oils. I love the soft yet vibrant look of watercolor painting.

As I immersed myself in learning various watercolor techniques, I discovered new ways to express my thoughts and feelings. Starting with flowers, I found comfort in the gentleness of their forms, and the act of painting them became a soothing ritual during tough days.

Soon, my creative drive expanded beyond flowers, and I began exploring landscapes and abstract art. The fluidity of watercolors mirrored the unpredictability of life where I embraced imperfections and learned to appreciate the beauty in unexpected challenges. I also created ukulele-themed paintings, which was a delightful way to express my love for the little instrument that brings joy to my life.

My favorite time to paint is in the middle of the night, when the world is asleep, and silence wraps around me like a comforting blanket. In these solitary moments, there are no distractions–no phone calls, no buzzing notifications, and no pressing to-do lists. It’s just me, my beautiful Japanese watercolors, and a canvas waiting to come to life. I cherish these precious times to create and play.

The beauty of watercolor lies not only in its visual appeal but also in its ability to reflect the nuances of emotions that words often fail to capture. As I apply delicate layers of paint to paper, I’m able to convey the anxiety, hope, and even moments of peace that coexist within me. Each piece becomes a personal testament to my resilience, reminding me that I am more than my medical challenges.

As I lay out my watercolor supplies on my kitchen counter and fill my glass jars with water, I can feel a sense of anticipation and release. With each brushstroke, I journey deeper into the canvas, and the outside world fades away. I find myself fully present, embracing both vulnerability and strength.

This artistic process has gifted me with a renewed perspective on life. It’s taught me that healing comes in many forms, and sometimes the unlikeliest of tools can offer profound comfort. Watercolor painting has become a steadfast companion. It’s like a supportive friend guiding me through the complex layers of emotions that arise from my health struggles.

Along this journey, I’ve learned to cherish not only the finished artworks but also the moments of creation. The quiet, introspective nights have become an essential part of my healing process. With each new piece, I discover courage and the unyielding spirit to face the challenges ahead.

I hope to inspire those navigating their health journeys to explore creative avenues that bring solace and strength. May we all find our artful healing amidst the turbulence, embracing the colors of life that shine brightest in the darkest of times.

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