Hello lovely blog readers! I hope you all are having a great week. I was asked by my dear friend, Samie to do a guest post while she is off on vacation. I was honored that she asked me to share some of my story and my journey through life and art.
For those of you who don't know me my name is Cherish "Russty" Brazil
. My friends call me Russty or Russ. I am a painter and mixed media artist. I try to encourage people to create art no matter their financial means, so I work with a lot of cheaper supplies and recycled materials. I want anyone who wants to make art to be able to, because I truly believe art can heal and be great therapy.
For many years I was a fiber artist. I LOVED to make art quilts. There was something so freeing about manipulating fabric into beautiful paintings that people could touch. It was hard on my hands and body though with arthritis and fibromyalgia, so eventually I had to stop. I was so depressed for a while feeling like I would never have an artistic purpose in life again. I spent about a year just quietly hiding in my house hoping people would stop asking me when I was going to be making quilts again. I felt like I lost a part of myself. The only little thing that made me happy was knowing that out in the world my quilts were still hanging in peoples homes bringing them joy.
One day when I couldn't take being bored anymore I decided to try my hand at painting. I figured I had brushes, cheap craft paint, and cardboard, so it wouldn't cost me anything to just try it out. I always loved what painters did, but I thought I would never have the skills to do that. I was amazed when I made my first painting and friends all responded really well to it, encouraging me to continue. So I kept painting and over time got better and better. Eventually I posted some online for people to see and someone wanted to buy one. It surprised me that someone I didn't know in person wanted to pay me hard earned money for something I'd painted. It opened up a whole new life for me.
I started painting with abandon. Digging in and really learning what I liked and didn't like. Painting just to paint and painting to remind myself that underneath my illness I still had a spirit that wanted to live and have a full life. I don't remember how I found the mixed media and art journaling community. But when I did it was one of those huge life moments when you know you've found your people! But I still felt like no one could know how I really felt, because they wouldn't want to deal with my illness. It was all about the art.
Then one day I saw Samie mention having Fibromyalgia and it was a bright glittery shining art beacon in the wasteland of a busy world. I felt like jumping around and yelling, "You're like me! Someone like me! Someone who can understand!" It was that little moment that made me realize, Aha! If Samie sharing can make me feel this accepted and understood...what might happen if I do it and someone sees it and feels better?! And then they could share and on and on. It created this ripple affect of people saying, Hey, I live with an illness/disability or I have a loved one who does and I get it and we're not alone! It's become not a celebration of illness, but a celebration of art and life. Of people saying you're not alone and you matter! Isn't that what life is supposed to be? Knowing that you matter to someone. No matter who you are or what you do, knowing that in this crazy life you are important to someone. It gives us all hope.
So now I often share to encourage others that during the good times we're here to rejoice with you. And during the hard times we're here to offer hugs, a listening ear, suggestions on how to make art when you don't feel your best, or to just simply as I like to call it, stand in the gap for you. Standing in the gap is people saying emotionally and spiritually we are here and we will be here till you can stand on your own. We're here to say we know you can ride out this hard time and we'll be here when you're ready to shine again. We're here to be the quiet support you need when you are struggling. And we'll be here to be the fun, goofy, glittery, messy, paint splattered joy you need when you're doing better.
I am proud to be part of a community of people who live a life on their terms, because of an illness and or disability. And we will continue to rejoice in our small little daily wins over life's trials. This is Russty signing out from my couch where I am going for the gold in couch surfing this week. Hope whatever life throws at you guys this week you can take it one thing at a time and remember it's okay to take a break when you need it. Love yourself, so others can have time to love on you too. <3