April 15, 2021 – Painter’s Cramp

A few days ago, I intended to dedicate several hours towards painting my ‘Dancing Buskers’. After much deliberation, I thought changing the manner in which I was painting might help give me better insight on how to proceed. I know. It was a long shot but I was desperate and figured, “Why not?” The way I had been painting wasn’t working. I had been laying the canvas flat on my art table and applying paint from directly overhead. “Perhaps if I set it up on an easel, it may help me better focus on what I need to do next and get a jump on it,” I thought to myself. Sometimes I have to change things up to get over speed bumps from time to time. My art easel had been stored away in the guest room closet. It was standing upright, directly behind several frames, and just to the left of some shelving. As I worked at lifting it up and towards me (in order to clear the frames), it caught the edge of two metal watercolor palettes that were resting on top of the shelving. No big deal, right?

Well, it was and it wasn’t. When the top of the easel made contact with the watercolor palettes (think cookie sheets), they came sailing off the shelving and struck me on my forearm and thumb joint. In other words, my body broke their fall. It hurt like a son of a gun and it made one heck of a mess. Both the palettes had dried watercolor paint on them, a lot of paint, and when the palettes made contact with the floor with a loud ‘crash’, the paint broke up into tiny pieces and went everywhere. My dog, who happened to witness the debaucle, immediately snatched up one of the larger pieces of paint (with her mouth) and ran off with it. When she returned for more, I shooed her off and shut the door. I then retrieved the broom and dustpan and got busy. My dog is a nuisance whenever I work on anything. It doesn’t matter what I’m working on or what I happen to drop, before I get my wits about me, she’s secreted it away in her mouth and run off with it.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that paint got everywhere. The following morning, I noticed that a couple of pieces of green paint managed to find their way into my moccasin slippers. Is nothing sacred?! They were my favorite pair! Sometimes I even wind up with stuff in my bra. More than once, when I’ve removed my bra (to bathe or whatnot), a stowaway pill will fly out. Oops! I am grateful that none of the paint managed to lodge in my bra. What was I talking about again? My mind is all over the place today so you’ll have to forgive me. In my defense, I’ve gone two nights in a row without hardly any sleep and I also drove nearly 3 hours to spend some time with my mom and family (and return most of the stuff I ordered online via Kohl’s the other day). I’m at my brother Clover’s house presently, knocking out my blog before I retreat to the trailer for the night. I spent most of the afternoon with my mother. I finally got to go inside her apartment and I didn’t like the way her furniture was arranged so I busied myself for a time trying to ‘fix it’.

All of her upholstered pieces (sofa and chair) were on one side of the room (side by side) and all of her wooden furniture pieces were on the other, and trying to ‘visit’ with the room arranged in this manner was, how do I put it, not exactly ‘ergonomically correct’. After having to continually turn my head (as far to the right as possible) in order to look at her while she was speaking, my neck let me know it didn’t appreciate the strain I was putting on it. When my mom finally got up to get dressed (she was still in her robe when I arrived), I shuffled everything around so that the chair and sofa were across from each other. Since she’s finally allowed to have visitors, I thought it would be a better arrangement. More than likely, everything will wind up right back where it was. It wouldn’t surprise me. My mom is pretty fickle about stuff. Of course, I’m one to talk! The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. And, oh my goodness, that ‘tree’ (aka my mom) was super unhappy today.

I got to hear all about how much she hates where she lives and how someone took her license away and now she can’t drive and yadda, yadda, yadda. You should have seen her face when, despite how many times I’ve explained that I’m not allowed to stay the night with her due to Covid-19 restrictions, I told her I was staying with my brother Clover because I couldn’t stay with her. Boy, that got her fired up! She started fussing about all of the money she pays to live in that place and how it’s a bunch of B.S. because she cannot even have overnight guests and there are all kinds of rules and regulations she’s supposed to follow and she just wants to move out of there and buy a house and share it with another elderly lady. Sigh. After about 30 minutes, my ‘exit’ meter started flashing brightly. I had my eye on the door and it took nearly everything I had to prevent myself from flinging it open, rushing through it, running down the hallway and out of the building and to the nice, peacefully quiet interior of my car.

Wow, I’ve managed to make no headway whatsoever regarding ‘painter’s cramp’. I was trying to get there but I ended up taking a couple of detours along the way and completely missed the turn. Alright. No more excuses! Let’s do this! I was talking about removing the easel from my closet to see if it would help with my creativity ‘blockage’. As it happened, things did not go as planned and I was injured as a result. What did I think (while holding back tears) after the palettes came crashing down off the shelving and made contact with my arm and hand? “This is a sign,” is what came to my mind. Seriously, I am beginning to wonder. Maybe I should back off and wait until I’m actually ‘inspired’? My concern is that if I ‘back off’ and wait until I’m inspired, I may never paint again. I’m just not ‘feeling it’ and it sucks. My rate of production is already abysmal. One painting a year is downright pitiful. It’d be one thing if I was Michelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel but I’m just trying to paint a couple of people dancing on a 16 x 20 canvas.

Have you ever had painter’s cramp? I don’t even know if it’s a ‘thing’ but it has to be! If writers can explain away their inability to ‘write’ due to cramps, painters should be afforded the same opportunity! And when I speak of ‘cramps’, I’m not talking about the kind that occur when I’ve painted for four hours straight, and when I attempt to take a break and set the brush or roller down, my hand stays ‘locked in place’ and resembles a claw for at least 5 minutes. I’m talking about when, regardless of having every tool known to man available to create a masterpiece, I cannot will myself to even pick up a brush. I will walk into the room and lament the lack of progress on my painting. I will turn on the wall heater and all of the lights. I will fill up a container with fresh water. I will fetch my Sta-Wet Palette from the spare refrigerator and set it down on the table. What happens after all of that preparation? I will leave the room to wait for it to reach a comfortable temperature and before I know it, it’s 6 hours later and time to go to bed.

What happens then? After I apologize to my painting for letting it down yet again, I turn off the wall heater and all of the lights, pick up the Sta-Wet palette (as I exit the room and close the door) and walk it back to the laundry room; whereby, I place it in the spare refrigerator. From there, it’s either straight to the bathroom to give my teeth a good cleaning before I head to bed or it’s to the computer to put the final touches on my daily blog. Clearly, I have not lost the ‘gift of gab’. That’s one thing I’ve never struggled with, but painting is a whole different animal! Why is it such a struggle right now? I’ve been an artist all of my life. I’ve been a ‘sketcher’ and ‘doodler’ and ‘painter’ ever since I was a little kid. What gives? Has that ‘side’ of me dried up just like my desire to dance? I suppose it’s possible. I’m definitely not running on all cylinders any longer. If I’m doing exceptionally well, three might be working but never all four.

Maybe I should have my doctor check under the hood and see what the heck’s going on? If he has any suggestions, I’ll pass them along. If I were to self-diagnose, I suspect the medication I take is at the heart of most of my troubles. Between the immunosuppressants, antidepressants, supplements, thyroid meds and sleep meds, it wouldn’t be surprising if my brain and body were negatively impacted. My husband used to marvel at my vocabulary and would often ask, “Did you just make that word up?” From all of the reading I’ve done over the years, I had built up quite an extensive database of words (in my brain) that I could easily recall. Now? I make vague references to things because the words elude me. So frustrating! Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! I’m going to head to ‘that thing’ now because I’m exhausted and it’s been a long day. “What thing?” you ask. You know! The thing that you lay on when you are tired and want to go to sleep? “Bed?” you ask. Yes, ‘bed’! I’m heading to bed. Goodnight and have a better-than-pleasant tomorrow.

For all of you Americans, happy ‘faux’ Income Tax Deadline Day!

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