Have we met?

Recently, I went for a morning stroll with an artist friend whom I mostly follow on Instagram. Having had a couple of opportunities to chat here and there, we finally made a point to connect face to face. As we walked and talked, I realized that you get an image of someone when you follow them on Instagram and feel as though you know them (much like you would a celebrity that you follow…. my Steven Tyler for example….. he and I are soul mates, I’m sure…) Anyway, I digress….. What I am trying to say here is that there was much to learn about this new friend and her life. It was interesting to hear where she had come from and how she ended up here. It was good to hear about her family unit and that every little thing in her life wasn’t just perfect ( as we sometimes get just those snippets online). It was fascinating to hear about all of the things she was doing and creating and involved in…. there is so much more to her than I saw online. I know that in this world of social media, I gravitate to those accounts that exude authenticity, those that show us how more alike we are than not, and those that make us feel we are connected.

I came to this place in my life quite by accident, I’d say. Not to say that I wasn’t always creatively minded…. that I was, but I was encouraged as many of us are, to follow a career path that was not too fulfilling in that regard. For many years I worked full time and part time as a Medical Laboratory Technologist, mainly in microbiology as well as haematology, and even though it was a satisfying career, let’s face it…. it was science-based and I longed for the arts.

Fast forward to my first child, Jordan. She was born and I was quick to pick up a DSLR camera, take a course and delve into years of photography. I jumped in doing as much as I could do while working, attending classes and conventions, teaching myself Photoshop, Lightroom and the ins and outs of website design. This went on for close to 12 years. Boudoir photography was my most favourite thing to shoot and I had a studio for 3 years which I can safely say was the best three years of that period.

In 2007, my second child was born. It was a fairly short time before we realized Ben would have special needs and although I kept on doing photography, I was at home more often and less able to have the freedom I once did. Ben has a seizure disorder and is also fully dependant on my husband and I for care. There came a point, while my husband was working full time ( and more) that I was feeling a bit “low” and needed a reset. I sought counseling as I knew I was in a funk. The counselor suggested that I take two months (with the support of family and other caregivers) and do whatever I needed to do to make myself feel worthy, to feel happiness, and not to feel guilty in taking time for myself. And so, that is when I began to paint. I made time every week, I turned our bonus room into a studio space and I got up there on a regular basis, experimenting with everything I could. I played my guitar and got back into lessons to learn theory and tablature. I was filling my soul. AND… it worked. My husband saw the girl he married again, and I was a better mom and wife for it. There was no resentment that I was taking this time for myself as it was allowing me to carry on with the sometimes overwhelming job of full-time caregiving. (Wait….. let’s be real here…. always overwhelming….) Without it, I am not sure where I would be.

My husband is now retired and helps equally in the care of Ben. I get to my studio to paint many times during the week and love my time creating. When I think of how I got here, I think of Ben and how without him and his disability, I may have continued working in the sciences. I might not have needed to be at home which in turn I might not have had the opportunity to indulge myself the way that I did. It was healing for me and it was what I needed to get through. It is what I need still.

There ya go…. if ya didn’t know…. I’m Joan and I’m an alco….. uh……artist.

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joan caroline mcewan
1090 Gordon drive
kelowna,bc. V1Y 3E2



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