Category Archives: Paintings

New Strokes, Old Brushes

I painted for the first time today since the August art show. It was different, difficult more than ease: Part of it is the language of art…you don’t use it, you lose it. Creativity needs to once again flow freely in thought, in inspiration and joy without the distress of the meager blending details of perfection in abstract strokes. But it was there, as if the beauty of blended colors was a loss in vision as well. I still see color, but in different hues. In the right eye it has all but faded in the shadows–it is only when colors, already bold, are in certain lighting that it is vibrant neon color and I say, “Now that is blue!” It makes shopping at Wal Mart and Target a color game.

It’s safe to say that the eye changes didn’t alter how messy I get when painting..at least there was one consistent factor. I even got paint on my walker handles; such normality in the routine! As I went to scrub off my color-coated hands, I thought about the day when I did my first painting for Dad’s birthday. Music was beginning to fade and I was angry. I felt a void–but in that first painting, I felt the joy like music. Today as soap foamed in the sink, I asked myself if I would be ready for the day when painting too fades like music. Would I recognize the next joy God may bring my way? Right now, I am not sure as it was just a momentary thought. I don’t think it is something to dwell on, but I also don’t think I should ignore it either; it is something to remind myself to cherish–brush each stroke with joy knowing that it is a gift given to me in a time of need and by sharing the gift, I share the same hope and joy to others.

I wanna sing.
I wanna fly.
I wanna see from Your side of the sky.
I wanna love.
I wanna stay,
Wanna be close to You
Long after the music fades.

Shaun Groves. “After the Music Fades.”

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Paintings

Plum or Pumpkin?

It was my first outing since eye surgery. Just an afternoon with Mom and Marcia looking in different stores for items on our lists of needs, ending with Target, which is where all my shopping took place. I usually grab a basket, place it on top of my walker and push it like a cart. But I needed grocery items this trip a well, so after getting me a regular cart, Mom just took my walker back to the car. All set with my list, I headed towards the pharmacy and food section feeling pretty confident. Shopping would be fast, because without glasses, I have no reason to stand and contemplate on all my options; I had what I wanted in mind and figured I should just stick to that until I could see better.

All excited, I come to the produce section. As I pass by a refrigerated section on my way to get fresh veggies, I notice there is coffee creamier in the case; not in its usual section, I scoot my cart back over for a glance. It’s the seasonal selection! Intrigued, I stopped to contemplate. They had Peppermint Mocha–too early, I save it for after Thanksgiving. There were three others: Pumpkin Butter, Pumpkin Spice and one that I read as Plum Cake. Between the two pumpkin flavors, I decided Pumpkin Butter sounded too sweet, so I grabbed the other. Finding Plum Cake an interesting flavor, I added it my cart, along with a regular Sweet Cream for when we use flavored coffee beans.

I finish my list efficiently, considering my eye was still only fluttering half-open most of the time and when I finished the food section, I make my way back towards the front. I only needed a new trash can for my bathroom, and to my surprise,, managed to meet Mom on the isle leading to that section. “Find everything?” she asks. I comment the need for the trash can, then excitedly tell her of my creamier findings: “Look at this flavor! Plum cake!”  Glancing at where I am pointing, Mom gives a sympathetic smile and reports, “Oh. It’s Rum Cake.” Bummer. I bought it anyway. 🙂 Thinking now, Plum Cake creamier would probably be disgusting. Besides, according to Mother Goose, Little Jack Horner sat in a corner eating a plum pie–not plum cake. So much for contemplating.

. . .

Yesterday, I painted. I painted a pumpkin since my hands cannot carve a pumpkin. It was a very interesting experience and gave me an appreciation for those who spend quality time painting their dried gourds. I can’t say I have the desire to paint any more veggies, but it was new and different. And looks like a plum.

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Novelties not Written

Much like my right eye,  I depend greatly on my right hand–because I am a natural right-handed person. It wasn’t until this February that the numbness started to rapidly increase, causing my fingers to curl inward like the left hand. There were several factors in my decision to stop driving at the end of March, and the right hand was one of them. Weakness has been a problem more in the left hand, but now, I often feel that even though my left hand is the weaker hand, the grip is better than the right just because the numbness is not as heavy. It gets confusing. Another mind game.

Compared to the rest of the present happenings of the body, I don’t talk much to anyone about my hands past the typical comments that they’re cold or my bad (really declined) penmanship, finger-poking computer times or asking for help opening things. Others are just obvious and a bit embarrassing, especially when it comes to eating…sometime even just around my family. I’ll comment how I miss taking a notebook and pen outside and just write,, but I don’t say much how I often miss just pampering myself…putting my hair in a ponytail or up fancy with cute bobby-pins, adding a little make-up and wear my Promise ring. I don’t like to comment how much I feel like a kid when I can’t buckle my seatbelt or punch my PIN number at the store; how frustrating it is not to be able to hold my books or almost drop my shower head while rinsing my hair or how long it takes to get dressed some mornings or hardly being able to set my alarm or punch the buttons on the microwave. And now that we are incorporating more sign language in the family, my hands struggle…the signs barely visible, if any at all.

Things, things, things…everyday. I usually just adapt–because I have to–and just don’t say these things. I think I let it build this past week, silently, after all the PT/OT and other personals gave me the “strength tests”: Squeeze my fingers, don’t let me push your arms down, and such. My doctors at Children’s do the same, but they always end withe the same question: “Can you still hold a paintbrush?” As if nothing else I wish I could still do is essentially important, because they know my paintings…they know my story and how painting brings me joy as I share it with others. I may have the penmanship of a seven year old and finger-poke in typing, but I can hold a paintbrush. There is almost a sense of freedom and I forget my woes of hands, if only for a moment. My stubborn and numb and curly and weak hand.

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

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When I Paint

This year’s Art on the Lawn Festival could not have gone any better! I think it all started with the fact that even with all the summer happenings–family and friend visits, a trip to Colorado, a cataract surgery and recovery, a weekend in Michigan, more family and friend visits–I completed all my paintings and preparations in good timing! Not to say that the prior two years I necessarily procrastinated, but this year, I felt in control of the situation…but that came in part of the previous year’s trial and error tactics.

It’s special to reflect back on events and see growth of where you have been and where you are now. My first show, I literally had no clue what I was setting myself into, yet I challenged myself and some of my best paintings resulted from that year. I was very social, but more as a “represent” of The Children’s Tumor Foundation as a portion of my earnings would be donated for continued research. Starting off with a strong foot helped me know which areas that needed shifting and others that I wanted to see more of at the next show.

Last year’s show came all too quickly! My paintings had started to incorporate different medium items; I still challenged myself, but gone were the days of extreme detail sets. I had started to find my fit and style, and enjoyed working painting in ways that challenged me, but more in creativity rather than detail. When the day of the show came, we were better in readiness, as Dad’s well-planned system in hanging my paintings saved us much time and less hassle than the previous year. But I found myself more quiet; my sister did most of the talking and by the end of the day, I was tired of being,”the girl with a disease” story. As I was preparing for this year, that was the first adjustment–it just had to go.

“I’m not putting up any signs for The Children’s Tumor Foundation or anything,” I told Mom as we were finishing putting the price tags on the canvases. “I’ll just have my business cards laid out,” I concluded. Mom said that was fine, her reassurance that it was okay for this to be my day. Best decision I could have made for the day. There was no pressure to discuss my every problem with everyone–though there were some questions asked and I answered or if I didn’t understand, I had the help I needed from my parents and friends. (Not to mention, I probably was a bit obvious with my use of walker, especially trudging on the grass to the bathrooms!) 😉

It was a day of art–of friends and conversations; meeting new artists around my booth; and coming home, in complete exhaustion, with a thankful and happy heart.

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Seeing Art (Outside the Box)

Tonight as I painted, I tried a new approach. It was called, “Mel takes off her glasses to see.” Sounds like an oxymoron, which I suppose it is, but that is what I did. (And just to clarify any safety concerns you may have in mind: yes, I was sitting.) 🙂 In fact, even now as I type, my gasses are beside me; same when I read or even eat, in some instances. Point is, I walk around in my glasses as if they are not my glasses–at first, it was just the left eye, after the cataract surgery, but now, it seems as if I am dealing with a cataract still in the right eye…blending with the grey haze. I can’t say this for certain, but will be discussing things with my various doctors in the next few weeks. I am ready to find out more of what is going on and what else we can do in this situation.

In the mean time, I find the best solution to avoiding headaches is taking my glasses off. My painting yesterday was the a simple prep of background for a painting I finished tonight and sorting through my button container to find the “finishing touches” of another. Add to that the fact it was mid-afternoon, so it was a more cheery work space, even with my glasses. Tonight I did paint two paintings while standing, meaning I was wearing my glasses. The first was a sunset–simple abstract, ten colors blending together; it’s style is one of my favorites to paint. The second was a redo, in different colors, of what my plans had been in the first attempt of Epic Fail. Using all shades of reds, pinks, purple and silver, I will be anxious to see how it looks in the full light of the morning. I felt as if I was playing more of a guessing game with my glasses on than an artist at work. From what I could see, I don’t think it will be another “epic fail;” but I already appropriately titled it, Love is Blind.

I am getting ready for my last Art on the Lawn Festival next week. I don’t expect my booth to be stuffed, but it is evident that I need a few new, smaller scale paintings. Yesterday morning, I sat at the kitchen table, glasses and coffee mug at the side of my notebook and I did some brainstorming, a little doodling and just staring out the window towards the beauty of Mom’s garden.

Painting is often like taking a picture–you can never fully re-capture the moment, though you can try. I wasn’t re-capturing any vivid memory photo from yesterday, but I was trying to keep in the mood, as if the brushstrokes were the quietness of the stillness I experienced when I just sat there staring out the window. I had quite the day today and found myself saying, “Good grief!”more times than a, “Thank you, Lord.” In just a little while, it will be the start of a new day…a new invitation to just sit a while and enjoy the stillness. Up until yesterday, I have not taken the time to do this–and now its all I want to do, even though I am dragging and so behind on other things. I need a better balance, but like Mom’s garden, I will not get very far in life without the proper nutrients. And so before I take to weeding and watering areas in my life, I think I might just sit. Just for a while.

If I could just sit with You a while, if You could just hold me
Nothing could touch me though I’m wounded, though I die
If I could just sit with You a while, I need You to hold me
Moment by moment, ’till forever passes by…

*words by Mercy Me.

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Beauty Rain

DSCN3713 Sunset in Rain.

A few nights ago, we had an evening of thunder, lightning and heavy rains. I was typing at the dining room table and like any other storm, I simply just unplugged my laptop and ignored the commotion outside (minus a few commented phrases– “Wow, that was a bright lightning flash!”) My eyes finally needed a break, so I sat back in my chair and gazed out the window.  By this time, the storm had calmed and the evening sunset was attempting to shine through the grey.

Beauty Rain…when the strength of light and color emerges from the deep of dark greys.

Don’t doubt in the dark what God has show you in the light.

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June

Turn the calendar page, another month is here,

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It’s hard to imagine that it’s already been half the year.

Flowers, gardens start to appear,

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Bringing colorful hope of the future so near.

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13, ESV

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