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Diabetes in Art

This semester, I’m taking Intermediate Painting and I love it. It’s nice to have time already set aside to just paint whatever I want. Anyway, I usually paint with acrylics, but I decided to use oils this semester, which I have almost no experience with. I immediately fell in love with them and now I’m not sure if I can ever go back to acrylics! One of the reasons I love this class so much is because we’re free to paint whatever we want, as long as we have at least six paintings done by the end of the semester. However, our paintings need to have a theme that links them all together to some extent. I didn’t have to really think about what I wanted to do, because I already decided over the summer. Ever since Diabetes Art Day last year, I realized that I enjoy using diabetes as a subject for my art work. It’s really relieving and sometimes even empowering. Lately, I’ve been feeling really determined to make paintings that are reflections of my life with Type 1. I explained to my professor that over the past year, I’ve felt dissatisfied with a lot of my painting ideas because I didn’t think they were meaningful enough to create a painting around. I wanted my paintings to get a little deeper and be a little more thought-provoking, so I thought, hey, diabetes is a huge part of my life, and it’s definitely a deep topic because it’s so personal. I know it will be tough, but I decided to do it.

One of the things I’m a little worried about is that I won’t effectively get the message across. I’d really like viewers to have a good idea of what I was feeling when I painted a certain piece. Because it’s so intimate and personal, it’s kind of hard to lay out my thoughts and fears on canvas so openly, knowing that people are going to look at it and critique it. I’ve already been mentally preparing to detach myself from my work, otherwise I know I’ll be offended on the inside if someone doesn’t get it or like it. At the beginning of the semester, I had a discussion with my professor about how direct the paintings should be. We agreed that they should be pretty subtle. I don’t want someone to look at one of the paintings and be like oh, it’s about diabetes. I want them to spend time thinking about what it could mean, and then once they figure out or learn what it’s about, they can reflect on the subject and see what a seemingly simple thing can mean to a diabetic. Individually, it will probably be hard to tell that the painting is about diabetes, but as a whole series, it will be a little clearer once some connections can be made between all the pieces.

Another reason I decided to do this series is that I knew it would help increase diabetes awareness. While I’m working in class, my classmates ask me about what I’m working on, and I explain to them how I want to create reflections of my life with diabetes. Two days ago, one student told me about how his dad also has diabetes and he could see how my painting worked with the theme. Once I finish all the paintings, I really hope to have them displayed in a show somewhere so more people can see them. I will also share them with all of you on here :] So far I’ve finished one piece and have started a second and you can see parts of them here:

If you have any ideas or suggestions for my future paintings, please share!! I would love to hear what you guys think :]

Happy Diabetes Art Day 2011!

By Ana Morales

Over the past two years, I’m pretty sure I’ve thought about my diabetes more than I ever did when I was younger. As I’ve been learning more, I’ve also been getting more scared. However, I’ve heard and read about people with diabetes that inspire me and give me hope. In my piece for diabetes art day this year, I wanted to illustrate part of the silver lining in my own and many others’ situation. Sure it’s no fun sliding needles and tubes into our skin every day and having to count carbs and wait for the insulin to kick in, but for now it’s what keeps us alive and we should be thankful that we have fairly easy access to it. At the same time, we should continue to promote diabetes awareness in hopes that one day every person with diabetes will be able to receive the supplies he or she needs.

So smile because you woke up to another day of possibility. Don’t ever forget how strong you are, even when you mess up. For more inspiration, check out the Diabetes Art Day website and The Butter Compartment, the website of Lee Ann Thill, creator of diabetes art day. I can’t wait to see what everyone else has created! Happy Diabetes Art Day! :]

Here’s what Sysy made: (she asks that you remember she is not an artist :)

It says “You deserve a halo, for jumping through hoops of fire”

And Sysy’s husband, Alex made this drawing from his perspective of things.  To him, what we diabetics do day in and day out looks like…

Long Time No See

Me with my short hair after I donated 10 inches to Locks of Love

Editors note: This is a post by my sister, Ana Morales.

Hey everyone, it’s been a while! My apologies for temporarily disappearing, although I’m sure my sister, the creator of this site, has been keeping you all well-informed and entertained :]. This post is mainly just an update on what’s been going on in my life, but I will start posting more regularly (once or twice a month) very soon.

Well back in May, I finished my fourth semester of college. My classes were challenging, but I learned a lot about art, myself, and quite a few other things. During the last half of the semester, I had a lot of morning lows, which interfered with my 8 am math class on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Sometimes I’d wake up at 6am with low blood sugar, drink some juice, fall back asleep, and sleep through my alarms. The class was only 50 minutes long and it was a 10-minute walk, not to mention I needed a minimum of three or four minutes to get ready…so needless to say, I ended up missing the class a few times. Other times, I would wake up on time, but my blood sugar would be low and instead of getting ready, I’d have to eat or drink something and wait for it to kick in. It didn’t help that attendance wasn’t mandatory, I’m not a morning person, and the temperatures were often below freezing. I did work hard in the class though, and I ended up with a B. Not ideal, but still good.

I still have a lot of morning lows, and I’m not sure what change or changes have triggered this (perhaps the few pounds that I’ve lost?), but over a few weeks I have reduced my Lantus dose by 8 units and it seems to have helped. Also, just like last year, I have noticed that being home after being away at school makes it easier for me to manage my diabetes. My blood sugar levels are more stable, I snack less, and I feel better in general. I’m still working on keeping it this way during the school year as well.

Another thing I’ve noticed in the past few months is that when I’m eating, I get filled up more quickly than I used to, but I’m also hungry more frequently. Because of this, I get hungry almost every night, but I resist eating anything because it usually affects my blood sugar negatively later on.

In terms of my art, I’ve gained skills in metal work, jewelry making, figure drawing, and computer graphics. I changed the concentration of my major from painting and drawing to art education, although my primary studio courses will still be in painting and drawing. I decided to join the art education program because it’s cheaper to do it now rather than later, and also because I want to have a back up plan, in terms of financial stability, that will not keep me from being involved in art.

A pair of earrings I made in my metals class

 

Currently, I am working away on a series of paintings and drawings that will hopefully be on display in one of the art galleries at JMU next year. The theme focuses on the relationship between the human figure and emotions, with an emphasis on hand gestures. I’ll have more information about the series on my website soon.

By the middle of August I’ll be back at JMU for two weeks of RA (Resident Advisor) training before I commence my junior year of college. I decided to become an RA so that I could earn some money (gotta pay off those pesky student loans…), but also because, as a naturally introverted person, I want to kind of force myself to open up, be more assertive, get more involved, etc.  I believe these traits will also help improve my diabetes control, so that will be another benefit. Even though being in charge of a dorm scares me, I admit that I’m pretty excited about it and also proud of myself for deciding to apply and pushing myself through the interviews even though just the thought of an interview gives me anxiety.  The fact that I was accepted sure made me believe in myself a little more :P

Anyway, I have to go study for a health test (I’m taking an online summer class), but I’ll be back soon! :]

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