Wrestling With the Rainbow....

I have just finished this piece, which is inspired by a 2 week stay as an inpatient at Burrswood  Christian Hospital in May 2016. I was full of excitement and apprehension during my time there..( I was on something of a high having survived a difficult journey)...but when I came home and back to the realities of long term illness, I felt intensely disappointed to still be ill, and this manifested in being  peed off with God and Doctors! It is always difficult when something has raised desperate hopes....and you start blaming yourself for having had any hope at all.

I have always loved rainbows and the idea of doing a painting of one came to me when I returned home.The rainbow is significant in Christianity : it is a symbol of God's promise to Moses that he would not flood the earth again...and it is God's  promise to us to keep our heads above water. I felt as if that promise was broken...

 June led into July and August...and the year stuttered on, and my feet felt decidedly soggy as I had the worst flare up I had had in many years.
.I tried... and tried... but it was impossible to do a creative piece about this beautiful place without that negativity shining through. I went through two false starts, many dialogues with my inner critic before finishing this piece. I thought it could be interesting to chart the progress of this work ,and you can see how hard it can be sometimes, for me to complete artwork....and not just because of my health..

I had a wonderful large corner room, with views out over the garden and from one window the view of the Chapel, and the distinctive cross on the roof. I didn't 'officially' do any art whilst I was there, but I did sketch a bit in my journal ( see rabbits sketch below),  My husband also took some good photos of the gardens. I don't work directly from photos, but I do study and remember them, and sketch from memory. Therefore the garden as I have created it, is not an accurate or photographic recording of what the garden at Burrswood is really like. I wanted to show the feeling of being there, of Hope and of Faith and of being surrounded by kind and supportive Love. The staff were amazing.
The Gardens at Burrswood. You can see that everything was blossoming in May!

I was not able to go into the garden so in my mind I moved through this view, and I wanted a sense of 'journeying through' in my piece.

A3  pencil drawing of 2nd Version

The Cross


Version 2. This was almost finished before I decided that it wasn't working.  There are too many elements in the foreground and the perspective was confusing me. There are no rules regarding what you draw, but it has to have a believability. 

Struggling with the perspective of the bushes and trees. The little little brown marks to the lower right of the cross are rabbits!

You can see I have started to play about with showing the blossom blowing into the air, but I still had no idea how to do that. I love the crayons I use, but you have to use them confidently as you can't paint over anything.

A light bulb moment! I had the idea to cut out and collage the petals blowing into the air.

The end is in sight!

Today- I am still ill, disabled..and objectively, my chronic conditions are worse than before I went there...but with distance, I am able to see how lucky I was to  be able to go there at all. It is a very special place, and, I was one of the last ME patients to go there before the hospital closed and Burrswood became a retreat centre. Both I and my faith are still very much alive....AND this picture is finished!!!

Burrswoood Spring,
 watercolour crayons on paper. August 2017



  1. Beautiful! I love how you walked through the gardens in your mind, and were able to enjoy the beauty despite intense illness.
    So amazing that you have the concentration to complete this work.
    Illness can make us so hungry for color as a sign of life. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Lisa Breckenridge- I am glad you like it. I work very sporadically and often can't work for weeks at a time, so it was completed little and often. It is A3 size, which is quite tricky to do lying down.I find colour so healing!


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