Wobbly Legs and Covid Art

I’ve been hit. Finally. After two years of feeling ever so slightly superior that my less-than-robust body had managed to avoid the dreaded virus, I have been knocked over … and it seemed like very nearly knocked off
Three weeks in from a positive RAT, I’m still coughing, and still weak. I count very little things – like cooking and eating a meal – as big victories (but not tasting, I can’t taste anything … oh god, I hope that comes back soon!). Managing to put the bins out, and then having to rest, huffing and puffing, legs wobbly, is worthy of applause. Actually, make that a standing ovation, please.
Covid seemed to have affected a lot of things in my body … a lot more than many other triple-vaxxed people, anyway. If you’re one of those who “just got mild symptoms like a cold” I’m trying very hard not to hate you, but help me out, and don’t tell me about it. I don’t want to hear the thinly-disguised-slightly-superior tone in your voice. I know it’s thinly disguised cos I was a version of you. I managed to avoid being hit by Covid for two years. I know it was probably just dumb luck, but I suspected that maybe I had immunity superpowers which the vax just enhanced. 
I was wrong. (But I’m very glad I was triple vaxxed, cos I feel sure if I wasn’t, I’d be a statistic.)
This is what I looked like literally the day before my positive RAT result: I was so happy to be surrounded by art, while immersed in the Van Gogh Live exhibition. It’s me when I was innocent and trusting. Just three weeks ago …

The next day, my life fell through the Covid Black Hole in the Universe, and I kept falling. I’m not going to show you what I look like now.
Unable to work in these past few weeks, I have had a lot of time to think. And I realise that a few things have kept me from going completely mad. I thought I’d share them with you, as a way of reminding myself not to go completely mad.
The first: I discovered audiobooks. I was too ill to read, and I slept most of the day like a dog, (or more accurately  like a dog with no way of going out for walks) only waking to eat and toilet. Sleep, wake, toilet, drink, rest, listen to story, sleep, and repeat. The audiobooks (Louise Penny’s Three Pines books) felt like friends. It helped that I had actually already read all the physical books, so I was familiar with the stories as I wasn’t taking much in. I allowed myself to be transported to a beautiful village in the eastern townships of Quebec, to sit in a bistro eating croissants and drinking cafe au lait by the fire, solving unlikely mysteries with interesting, funny people, while in reality I was trying not to die of Covid. 
Then a funny thing happened. 
During my brief waking moments, I found myself started to get very distracted by the patterns of leaves on my doona cover.  (This could be because my world had been reduced to basically staring at my doona cover.) After a few days of this I realised I needed to hold a pen and start drawing while lying here and staring, (between coughing and sleeping).
So I did, and I’m so glad I did. It felt like I’d found a magical connection to myself. Cos the reality is, being so unwell made me feel like I had lost myself. And being sick, in isolation, in a cold house (I didn’t have the strength to light or maintain the fire) messed with my brain. For start, I had transformed into a resident of Three Pines, Quebec, and my friends were all fictional. The pen and paper and drawing helped me connect with the real person who lived in Glen Forrest, Western Australia. So my art became the Second Thing that Saved Me, helped me hold on to the memory that I was an artist, that I had a life and I would find my way back to it. 

In the early stages, I could only manage simple line drawings with a pen and pencil. 

In the last few days, as I have gained a little more strength, I have graduated to colour, using acrylic paint pens, not brushes and paint, so I’m still art-ing while lying in bed or on my sofa.
The Third Thing that Saved Me, in an unexpected way, was receiving an invitation to exhibit my paintings. It was kinda crazy as I had trouble staying awake, let alone walking, and yet I accepted – which meant I had to select, label, catalogue and pack 14 paintings. It may not sound too hard to you, but when walking to the loo and back was a major accomplishment, it was big. 
I managed it in small tiny steps. Did what I could lying down (all the paperwork). Ordered boxes made to size from The Box Man, so that I didn’t have to cobble together packing for each piece. And slowly, slowly, slowly, between bouts of fever and coughing and body pain and fiery throat and wobbly legs, I got it done. And again – it connected me with my real, actual life and what artists do: we make art and we share it. So thank you Tara Chambers for inviting me to exhibit in the Mainstreet Gallery of Mukinbudin! You helped me hold onto my sanity whilst in the ‘Covid Black Hole’. 
And the fourth, and most important thing – the kindness of friends and relatives that kept in touch with messages, food and checkins. The neighbours that dropped off panadol or walked the dog. An old friend who drove for an hour to drop home-cooked food at my door. The students who sent me kind, understanding messages when I had to reschedule classes at the last minute. Thank you to all of you, as I climb out of the Black Hole, and find my way back to the sunflowers. I do it with a new appreciation for the power of this virus – and the massive suffering it caused (even though compared with some, my experience was rather minor). 
And thank you, reader,  for sharing my experience. I feel so much better having unloaded on you! So much so I’d love you to  share your experience with Covid, and yes – even if it was just a “mild cold”, tell me all, and ignore my grumpy assertions that I don’t want to hear of it. Share your comments, and don’t hold back … 

With love,
art classes perth
PS I’m resuming my private students over the next few days, and my studio classes resume in Spring.
You can check out what’s on offer, including the new workshop, Family Ties, over here

art classes perth
Thank you for reading my post!
I’d love to meet you in my home studio
in Perth, Western Australia,
Where you can view and buy my art,
or we can make art together
amongst eucalyptus trees and bird-song!
More on my art + classes

Comments 30

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  1. Oh Mal, I’m so sorry you’ve had a tough go of it, but very happy you are clawing your way back. Your drawings are beautiful, how wonderful to have that way to ground yourself. Here’s to a full recovery as soon as possible, do be gentle with yourself.

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      Thank you for your kind words, Deborah. Art has been so helpful. And yes, I’m taking things slowly – no other choice 🙂


    So is your covid writing for that matter!

    Covid improved malini? 🙂

    And thank you forever for introducing me to your buddies in three pines!

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      HAHA!!! Maybe this is the ‘Covid-improved Malini’ 🙂 Though I REALLY would love to taste food again. Life has WAAAY less meaning when my favourite occupation (eating) is compromised!!

    2. I know right?! “I could only manage simple [but super beautiful] line drawings…”

      Also, I think I might need to meet these three pines friends. I never have the energy to read anymore! And all the audiobooks (podcasts actually) I listen to a children’s bedtime stories

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        Happy to oblige! Three Pines is a great place to hang out (if you like fiction).
        And thank you so much for saying my little line drawings were beautiful. Xx

  3. Mal, I didn’t realise how bad you’ve been feeling! And while I read and felt all your pain, I’m laughing out loud as well! And in the midst of this, you organised a most gorgeous compilation of art, photos, messages for our Aunty Sush. Take care, sister, and see you very soon.

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      I’m glad it got a laugh out of you, big sister 🙂 It has been rather funny in many ways, but not when you’re living it. And I can see the end of the tunnel… so many haven’t had that good fortune.

  4. What an inspiration you are! Even in the midst of having Covid you manage to find humour and connect with people in an uplifting way.

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      AWWW, thank you Renee! It has certainly lifted my own spirits to reflect on this strange little episode of my life, that has seemed endless and yet is comparatively brief. But I have a new appreciation for the ravages of Covid, and much gratitude that I can see my way out of it.

  5. A beautiful uplifting and inspirational story from a low point in life – one that people can relate to as well. How insightfully you connect to the values that make you, “you”, and in so doing help us on our own journey of who is “me”.

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      I think it’s rather insightful of you to notice that, Chris! In fact, it’s something that only became clear to me as I was writing this post. It’s strange how sometimes, I only know what I know once I write it down!!

      Thank you for your kind words. Very much appreciated.

  6. So sorry to hear it’s been so challenging, but if your plague inspired art is the new born inspiration, well done!!!
    From a slightly superior, not yet bug effected friend ( knowing full well this might change at any second)

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      Glad you’ve managed to miss the Covid train. Wouldn’t wish it on you Simon, no matter HOW superior you feel!! And thank you for the kind words about my “plague-inspired art” haha!!

  7. Oh dear, I’m so sorry to hear you are going through this, but very glad that you are getting better.
    I LOVE the Three Pines series, and I’m reading #10 currently.
    Also I’m one of the slightly smug, haven’t-got-it-yet crowd. It’s only a matter of time, I think.
    I’m sending my best wishes and positive thoughts to you . . .

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      Oh Yay! A fellow ‘Three Pines’ fan! (and I’m so glad you haven’t gotten sick, really I am!) thank you so much for your kind words x

  8. Sorry you have been hit hard and found ways to support you through audio books, drawing, pens and how amazing is art to support your healing on all levels. Take care.

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      Thank you Janene, that is very kind of you. Yes, art has been quite a wonderful ‘pill’ in this experience. And in so many others! x

  9. ❤Malini, so sorry to hear you had such a rough time of it. Your drawings are stunning! I admire your graceful determination and sense of humour through this challenging time. Big hugs and love. ❤

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  10. Thanks for sharing your story Malini, I’m sorry you were hit so hard by this virus.. it affected my Dad the same way and just a few months later he is now on a holiday in the Seychelles. So hopefully it won’t be much longer until you’re fully recovered. Your drawings are beautiful by the way, so much detail in each one as usual. Sending lots of love to you and hope to see you in another one of your classes soon xx

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      Ah yes, I look forward to that time when I am feeling up to a holiday in the Seychelles too 🙂 Thank you for your kind words and also for your comments about my art, I appreciate it all, Nadine! x

  11. I remember that plant from our first mentor session with the blind drawing and have a large abstract rendition!!!! Your drawings are as lovely as ever and glad to see those acrylic pens getting a workout (which brand are you using because they look to have a nice narrow nib?).
    Gary & I had also avoided the virus for the two years and then tested positive when we returned from a trip (perhaps people might say that it was a calculated risk, but we just needed to travel again after having several trips cancelled , even within Australia). I cruised though it and actually worked from home only because I was required to isolate; Gary is immuno-compromised and was pretty sick and is still coughing five weeks later. Don’t panic because he didn’t rest and recuperate and there’s only so much I can do in that situation. Like you, I’m still glad he was triple vaxxed and had a fourth booster about two weeks before we left otherwise I think he would have been in a similar situation as yourself or even worse.
    As always, you manage to find the positive in the situation and I’m sure this has, in part, enabled you to weather this. Hoping for a gentle, but speedy, recovery and to enjoying your company whilst creating art very soon.
    (your standing ovation)

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      Hi Mo, thank you for the lovely message! And actually that is a different plant to the one you drew – this one is growing in water in a vase! The acrylic paint pens are 0.7mm tips – and Posca really is the best after trying many brands. So sorry Gary has had it badly, but I’m hoping on the mend now. You sound like you avoided the worst, well done! And thank you for the standing ovation, haha!! Always appreciated! xx

  12. Hi, Malini,
    Greetings from California! Oh my goodness, I am so sorry you got so sick. We’ll include you in healing prayers!
    Like most of my friends I am quadruple vaccinated but it hasn’t kept all of us unscathed and I expect we’ll all get Covid eventually. I keep my fingers crossed about the severity.
    My bedtime reading material of choice is rereading all of Jane Austen’s novels. I love them all, and don’t have to remember what I’ve read while falling asleep because I know them practically by heart. I laughed when I looked up your choice of sick-room reading material, thinking it might be nice to read something else at night. Murder mysteries?!? (One of the things I love about Jane Austen is there isn’t a single murder in any of her books.)
    Get well quick, and may your food taste wonderful again very soon!
    Love, Nancy

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  13. Hello beautiful Malini,
    It’s Marie, the gal who popped out of nowhere to help you clear your bush block

    I am in Tassie. Having, dare I say….yes I will after your authentic and at times amusing email (not laughing at ya but with ya!) well….I have been more sick in Tassie over the last 6 months than I have been my entire adult life!! Golly gosh!!! I too thought I had escaped the dreaded lurgy. Nope whilst it didn’t hit me to the extent it has with you, it lingered on and on and robbed me of my joy, enthusiasm and energetic self. It has put me in catch up mode with my Uni studies which is very uncomfortable. Fortunately, my optimism is back so I can see that all will be well in the end. I breathe, and breathe and well breathe….and take one step at a time.

    I am coming back to WA in the summer. My daughter is getting married. I would love a cuppa with you if you can spare the time xx

    Blessings to you sweet, courageous woman.


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      I would love to see you Marie! so sorry Tassie has been a bit challenging health-wise 🙁 I can’t wait to see you this summer! xx

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