My art studio in a Chinese Hospital


Qingdao humming bird

Having elderly parents I had much experiences of the long hours of waiting in hospitals. Whenever I accompany them for their appointments or stays I would bring my art supplies along. I would kill time by drawing, painting as a way to pass the boredom of waiting. On the day of Michael’s surgery two other staff from his company came and one will accompany him to the operation room for the three hours surgery.

Meanwhile I was prepared with my art supplies and start to paint while wait for his returns. The surgery went smoothly, I was happy to see him being wheel back to his room. The doctor ordered him to stay in hospital for the next five days to recover which means I must put away my tourist hat away and put on a chef’s hat as his personal chef and bring his daily meals

Michael lives in a beautiful large three bedrooms apartment far away from this hospital.  I had visited him last year and know his neighborhood well. There are two large supper markets in his area; one in an upscale mall is more expensive than the other. I stayed away the first one even it is closer and nicer.

Most shoppers here only buy what they needed of the day, rarely one see a shopping cart loaded with stuff. I picked up the custom right away and since I have all the free time, I visit the supper market at least twice a day, sometimes just to pick up one item I needed.

My daily routine would be taking the public bus and bringing him two meals per day, one in the morning and one in early evening.  I enjoyed riding on the buses it was like a tour of the city and people watching. Another benefit was learn the names of the different stops in Mandarin as it announce at each stops..

When he was resting I would bring out my paints try to capture what I seen around the city. Sometime, I moved my hospital studio into the large common area which has better nature lights with many large windows.  Pretty soon, my art making has attracted others’ attentions. Visitors and nurses would stop and watch me paint.

 One man whom I seen often in the common area strike up a conversation with me. After I told him I came from Canada, he asked me something in Mandarin which I couldn’t make out. Finally, I asked him to write it out for me (I can read Chinese) it was Norman Bethune: to the Chinese the most well known Canadian and Chinese hero here. To most Chinese even they don’t know much about Canada but all knew about Norman Bethune.

One afternoon, after returning from the nearby café for my internet fix (most cafes offer free wifi) I found the nurses from our floor all standing around Michael’s bed.

They were examining my art from my sketch book which I had left on his bed! One of the nurses, who able to speak some English have many questions for me, realizes both of us are from Canada. We had become the subjects of their curiosity since almost no foreigner stay in this hospital.



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