Lupus/Chiari and being an artist.

I started some quick sketches today for an idea I have for a children’s book. I grabbed my giant sketch pad and sat on the couch and went to work. I got so lost in what I was doing that I didn’t realize the terrible posture I was in. I’ve had a headache ever since. Looking down or being  hunched over for long periods are a pretty terrible position to be in when you have chiari. Once my neck muscles knot up, it’s pretty hard to get them to relax for some reason, and sometimes can result in headaches that last for days. It’s unfortunate, but I’ve been dealing with it for a while and I’m used to it.

I’ve been drawing for…well…ever. Since I could hold a crayon. I remember being 2 and drawing a stick family, and impressing my family with how accurately I portrayed their characteristics. Whenever any adult asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always “an artist”. It has stuck with me my entire life, and it’s the area of my life where I am absolutely sure of myself.

Colored pencils were probably the first medium I used where my art started to take shape and really look professional. I became pretty good at blending colors and creating depth. I started to explore other mediums, and thanks to my mom, discovered acrylic paint. I can’t say I have a preference between the 2, but painting is easier and always seems to surprise me when it comes to what I am able to do. No matter what you paint, or what your style is, it always looks good, because paint looks good even if it’s messy. Van Gogh and Monet were messy when you think about it. I always feel like I nailed it when I do a painting, even if I didn’t stick to my original vision. 


I still use and love colored pencils, but since developing chronic pain, they have become difficult to use. It takes a lot of elbow grease to blend color, and to even put color down on the paper. It makes my joints hurt a lot after a short time. I have a hard time with repetitive activities like that. With paint, it doesn’t take that much muscle to put down and blend color, and also doesn’t take as much pre-planning. I can usually just dive right into it.

I have some Professional Prismacolor markers for cartooning and crafty things. They’re in between colored pencils and painting for me. They lay down color without a lot of effort. They can still tire my hands out after a while, but I can work with them for a decent amount of time. They’re very saturated and put down dark colors, even the pastel ones are dark, so if you’re not looking for something heavy then I recommend trying another brand, but if you’re just doodling (professional level doodling, of course) they’re great. I would love to own some copic markers, though.

I have experience working with clay and filming claymations. It was one of the most fun art experiments I have worked on. It made me want to major in animation, and I did start out with computer animation as my major, but I realized it wasn’t for me. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I can’t handle being on a computer all the time. I found out I have hidden talents in web design, after effects, photoshop, and 3D modeling, and I really enjoyed being in the classroom learning new artistic skills. After a few semesters of it I knew I couldn’t keep going with it. Chiari and computers just don’t mix, and my back and neck were in knots all the time from it. I didn’t even know at the time that I had chiari, I just knew I was a tension headache person.

I have a hard time sitting and doing regular art for long periods, too. It gives me tension headaches, but I don’t have to be in the same posture the whole time I’m working like I would on the computer, so it’s easier to work around. I’m still planning on majoring in art of some kind, and having a career path in art. If I do a little of everything, I don’t have to worry about not feeling well enough to finish my work, because I can switch it up. If I can’t sit and draw that day, then I can stand and paint, or brainstorm stories. 

Another reason I chose to stick to my roots rather than keep going with computers is because computers just suck sometimes. You know how they are. They can be extremely frustrating to work with, and I just remember thinking sometimes “Man, it would be easier to just draw this by hand.” Insert various expletives here.

Art is who I am. There’s never been a time where I ever felt like I had to give it up because of my health issues. It’s just not an option. It would be like giving up eating. That’s not to say I don’t take breaks from it sometimes, but there’s always a new art idea on the horizon.

Here’s some of my work:

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageI‘m in the middle of this one right now.



  1. Your art is wonderful!

    For purely comfort purposes (it is not attractive at all!!!) I use The Total Pillow tied around my neck to allow me to sit and do activities a little longer without pain. Had cranial decompression for Chiari in 1998 and have wry neck 🙂 It really helps.

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