Corrina Thurston is a professional wildlife artist specializing in detailed, vibrant colored pencil drawings. In this inspirational article she shares her story about how drawing helped her gain a new perspective on life. After becoming chronically ill and having to medically withdraw from college she taught herself how to draw from her bed. What began as a therapeutic outlet blossomed into a rewarding profession.
Thursten is also an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant for other artists, and the author of an e-book, How To Build Your Art Business With Limited Time Or Energy, to help other artists do the same. To learn more about her, her art and book please visit her website: www.corrinathurston.com. ~ Renée Phillips
Corrina Thurston’s Story
I’m not like most artists. I can’t say I started drawing when I was young. I can’t say I always had a passion for creating. To me, art was fun to do in class and I appreciated artwork in museums and galleries, but that was the extent of it.
In 2010 I was 20 years old and had already been sick with a debilitating illness for two years. At that point doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me, despite running all the tests they could think of, and I had already medically withdrawn from college after only a semester.
A funny thing happened while I was sketching;
I suddenly wasn’t thinking so much about my chronic, debilitating pain.
Two-years earlier I was a three-sport athlete and a 4.0 student, but by 2010 I was mostly bedridden. I had a 24/7 migraine, severe insomnia, fatigue, pain, anxiety, and more. I spent my days in a darkened room with sunglasses on, earplugs in my ears, unable to do much of anything to distract me from the pain and misery that had become my life.
That’s where art came into play. In an unexpected twist of fate, I crawled out of bed one day to scour my bedroom for a pencil and paper. What I found was a graphite pencil from school and a leftover piece of poster board. I dragged those back into bed with me and began to sketch.
A funny thing happened while I was sketching; I suddenly wasn’t thinking so much about my chronic, debilitating pain. For once I had something that not only helped distract me from the pain I was in, it also gave me the opportunity to feel productive for the first time in two years.
My skill developed so quickly
that I still exhibit some of my very first pieces.
My artwork progressed quickly. The lack of energy prevented me from drawing more than an hour a day, but my skill developed so quickly that I still exhibit some of my very first pieces.
It turns out I had a knack for drawing.
That first sketch started out with that typical No.2 graphite pencil, but after that I wondered how I might use color. Pastels were too messy. Nothing with brushes I’d have to clean, as I didn’t have the energy and I couldn’t do it in bed.
What about colored pencils?
I’d seen a drawing that used colored pencil in a way where the color was opaque, making it look almost like a painting. With that drawing in mind I wondered, could I do something like that? A week later I was adding every color from my new box of 85 colored pencils to my initial sketch, testing them all out, layering them and seeing what it took to make them opaque and smooth and vibrant.
Starting to draw was a turning point in my life.
I began looking for the good in life again.
From there I turned to drawing animals, my real passion, teaching myself to draw from the confines of my bed. Colored pencil was perfect, not only because I could use them in bed, but because I could get the vibrant colors I wanted, the fine details I love, they were clean and didn’t smudge, and the pressure needed to apply the pencil was enough to help stop the extreme shakiness of my hands. The only thing colored pencil needed was patience, and I had plenty of that because where was I going to go?
Years passed and my ability progressed, but my health did not. Doctors still didn’t know what was wrong with me and there was no light at the end of the tunnel for this continuous torture to my body. There was only art.
Starting to draw was a turning point in my life. I began looking for the good in life again. My depression lessened, my sense of humor returned, and the flame of that strong, stubborn fighter in me was reignited.
I’m able to take on purposes bigger than myself
by using my artwork to bring awareness to endangered species…
Drawing helped keep me sane. I could look at the walls of my room and see my framed pieces and know I created those. It was proof the days before had been real. It gave me purpose and something to look forward to, when before I felt I had nothing.
In 2014 I was finally diagnosed with chronic Lyme Disease, Bartonella, two types of pneumonia, malfunctioning adrenal glands, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Endometriosis, IBS, and more. I found a doctor who was willing and able to treat me. Treatment is a long-term process and progress has been slow, but significant!
I’m starting to participate in society once more. I’m able to take on purposes bigger than myself by using my artwork to bring awareness to endangered species and help wildlife conservation organizations. I’m helping other artists, especially those with limited energy or time for their art business.
There’s no doubt that my discovery of art is the silver lining of being sick. It was an unexpected light during a very dark time. Without it, I honestly don’t know where I’d be today.
Visit Corrina Thurston’s website at www.corrinathurston.com