Drawing Through Difficulties With Carol Tompkins-Parker

“There are some periods where my hands are just practically worthless and it’s tough to even get dressed.”

Carol Tompkins-Parker has faced some difficult challenges. Hands

“I was diagnosed with systemic lupus and I was 18 years old. There was a 5 year prognosis before death. I’ve had surgeries but the lupus just keeps doing things to my hands,” says Parker.

Her hands. Bent and deformed.

“I have developed osteoporosis because of the medications I’ve been on all of my life. I have silicone joints in both hands and last year, I’ve had all of these replaced. So that meant I couldn’t draw for six months.”

And drawing was a passion of carol’s.  Back in 2008, Carol went to a quilt show.

“My husband said, ‘do you think there’s anybody in the guild that draws like you?’ And I said I have no idea.”

And instead of bringing quilting materials…

“I took ten sets of six cards and envelopes.”

Sketched on them, was a detailed drawing of her arthritic hands grasping a needle.

“And sold them out.”

Fast forward to 2019 — She received an interesting proposition.

Parker says, “I’m sitting in the front windows here at horizon books, and Anne Stanton of Mission Point Press sees me drawing and thumbs through my sketchbook and says, ‘this would make a really neat book.’”

Taking the idea and running with it, Carol found more hands to draw.

“Hands are very expressive…In drawing their hands, I also got to better know all these people.”


“Doug Stanton on his laptop. Noted author who resides here in town. The fire chief holding an antique fire helmet. A very good friend, Brian Strickland who stained glass.”

But with more surgeries on her hands, it delayed the project for years.

“I can only hold a pencil for an hour or so, I have to take a break and do all sorts of hand exercises. But to finish this project, to have this book put together, I had to tape the pencil into my hand so I could hold it better.”

Despite her physical challenges, she never let them limit her.

“I just soldier through, it’s just the way that I am. They didn’t expect me to live very long, but I’ve proved them wrong five decades later.”

Five decades — living by her own words of encouragement:

“Don’t dwell on what you’re dealing with. Look forward to the next day. Don’t feel sorry for yourself.”

When asked if she would have changed anything, she says…

“Would’ve done more risky things. I would’ve bungee jumped and maybe tried a cross country bike ride. But no, not really. I’ve really had a good life.”

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