I have been interested in art since grade school, having created my own 'leaves' to wear for a school play I was in, portraying a tree; creating three wise men with tiny bits of paper like a mosaic for a Christmas mural, and on into high school, where I worked on sets for class plays. I was always hovering in the background, my creative mind exploding with what could be next. Afterwards, real life set in -- a 30-year career as a medical transcriptionist, marriage, a child, and my art sat on the back burner.
Then in 1991 my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I was devastated and trying to find a way to cope, I created 150 pair of hand-beaded earrings, all of which I sold. I also took a class in oil painting, which I'd always wanted to do and I thrived! This was the way for me to deal with whatever was happening so that I had an outlet, a respite, and a way to be okay with it all, whatever the stresses were in my life. So, art then became my hobby.
Did I mention I am a polio survivor? At the young and tender age of 3, I woke up one morning completely paralyzed from the neck down. What I remember was being frantically rushed to the hospital, packed in ice cubes, as I had a fever of 105 degrees, seeing my parents only through a glass window because I was in isolation, and being completely scared out of my wits!
After several months of rigorous Sister Kinney therapy, I started to come out of the complete paralysis, being able to walk most of my life with a just a limp. However, as life progressed, I started to deal with the effects of post-polio syndrome, another devastating blow, "stricken once, twice afflicted," another polio survivor said.
In 2000 I started going downhill and was walking less and less, feeling fatigued, tired, having pain, spasms, and other issues that went along with post-polio. On top of that, I was devastated because I had to give up my job due to post-polio brain fatigue.
All my life I had been very independent and now I was given a wheelchair, a leg brace, and all kinds of meds. Feeling like I was in a hole all by myself, trying to dig myself out, I threw myself into my art and I just started painting. Painting and painting, like a mad woman. How could I be reliving this polio nightmare? My husband would come home from work and there I would be in the middle of the living room, not having cooked dinner, and sitting in front of some painting I'd created. It was the only way I could cope.
In time I realized that I still had something to offer life with my creations, finding that creating art itself was what was healing me, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Being able to create takes me out of myself, out of my own physical aches and pains and gets my mind into a happy place. There are times during that process that something happens to me - I see it as a challenge, kind of like life, thinking ... 'What am I going to do with this piece next?,' and I persevere, until I get it and my soul sings!
My creations are of traditional oil paintings, miniature paintings in miniature technique, colored pencil with pastels, scratchboard that I do with a scalpel, iconography and some photography. I enjoy all of it!
It is my healing, my respite, my expression of mind, body and soul.
My art has most recently been in the 40th International Miniature Arts Society of Florida Exhibition at the Leepa Rattner Museum of Art. I have also exhibited throughout Florida at: The Cummer Museum in Jacksonville, Tampa Museum of Art, The Scarfone-Hartley Gallery in Tampa, and Edfish Gallery in Sarasota. I also have private collectors throughout the United States and my art has been shown on national television.
This is Week 6 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Lora’s post today.
All artwork contained herein is copyright Lora Duguay. To see more of Lora’s art or to purchase prints, please visit www.lora-duguay.artistwebsites.com