Getting Down To Business (Lots of Drawings At Last!)

As I have already shared, this has been a difficult time with my mental health and physical health too. (Actually I think I only shared that my mental health has been poor, I didn’t mention my physical health…) Well my mental health has started to stabilise now, I am feeling a lot more ‘together’ and ‘with it’. Physically though, there is a very different story to tell.

I have been suffering with a huge flare up of whatever is wrong with me. My GP is sure that all that ails me is fibromyalgia, but I can’t help feeling like this is a somewhat ‘dustbin diagnosis’; basically I feel like I have had the label of fibromyalgia slapped on me because nobody can be bothered/will make the effort to run necessary tests and diagnose me with the actual thing that I am ill with! .

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Starting from the bottom up, feet first, there is literally not a part of my body which does not cause me pain, though for the majority of the time it is in my joints, not just soft tissue. I also have very hypermobile joints, meaning that the flexibility in my joints is over extended, even though they are sore and tender. My ankles particularly are very weak and I fall a lot, though this is not just the joint pain causing me to fall, but the fact that in addition to the pain I am in, I also suffer with chronic debilitating dizziness. I have had this investigated and the only things that they were able to say with certainty are that a) I have a rather low blood pressure, which stays low even when I have been standing for a while, and b) I have something called psychogenic syncope which roughly translates as “falls over because of psychological reasons”.

I cannot argue the low blood pressure, there is evidence to back that up, but the psychogenic syncope, which is rather vague, basically means that because of my mental health I have fainting fits. It seems to tie in with the dissociative symptoms a lot. I have had several really nasty falls which have occurred at times when I have been blissfully unaware of the fact that I am even awake, let alone not maintaining my balance.

Twice I have broken bones in my altered state, the first time I cracked my cheekbone, not badly but badly enough that 18 months later it still gives me pain. Then last time I did some serious damage whilst unaware I broke my top thumb knuckle into three pieces crushing it under  a chair. I don’t actually remember the breaking of the bone, but when I woke up, some part inside me had had a field day wrecking my living room in bizarre ways…

I woke up in the morning with an extremely sore thumb. I was, at that time, being assessed to see if I had Lupus- still a possibility but they have not taken that ‘evidence’ seriously or to the next round of testing because I think that they think I am making a fuss about nothing. Anyway I woke up with a sore thumb and assumed that it was joint pain, so I put a heat patch on the whole of my thumb and held it in place with a wrist splint. I then set to cleaning my flat because I had had a huge flood in here, unbeknown to me I was cleaning vigorously with a shattered thumb knuckle. I cannot even describe how painful it was. Anyway, I took the heat pad off and saw that my thumb had gone several shades of purple and was nearly three times it’s normal size, so my friend brought me to A & E and we discovered that not only was it broken, but badly broken. Six weeks minimum in a splint after 2 weeks in a full arm cast. NIGHTMARE. It was also my right thumb I am right handed- which made everything difficult and lots of things impossible.

What upset me the most though was the fact that I had and still have no recollection of the fall. When I woke up the scene in the living room was really disturbing. I had spread several packs of gardening seeds all over the coffee table, I had placed plushy dog toys under all the legs of all the dining chairs. All my photos were upside down. All of the blankets and cushions out of the living room were in a pile by the front door. One of the dining chairs was lying down- which the doctors and so on thought was how I broke my thumb by falling on the chair and crushing my thumb underneath it. scary stuff. I had also emptied two pencil cases FULL of pens and pencils into my bin. It was so weird. Like I said though, I still have zero recollection of what happened that night and it was traumatic piecing it all together.

Anyway, the reason for my bringing this up, and getting side tracked (hahaha, nothing new there!) is because my physical health is really dreadful at the moment. I have had five falls in the last two and a half weeks. smashing my phone, getting gravel all embedded in my hand and knees, covering myself with mud, denting my ego rather spectacularly, and mostly really hurting myself. Part of the problem is lack of awareness and the fact that I have done myself real damage.

So yeah the physical side of things is really not good. I am having to use my crutches more and more to enable me to leave the house, and I HATE it!

Having said that, the lack of mobility means that I have ample time to sit and draw. And once I had gotten over my hump of not being able to draw, I was drained and depressed and mentally not in a good place.

I began to draw things out of the garden, flowers, leaves etc, and from photos that I took on holiday (Pete the Duck for example!) and using different media to emphasise tone and texture.

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Pepper from the garden (graphite pencil)
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Chillies from the garden (Graphite pencil)
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Collection of Peas from the garden (pencil and colouring pencil and biro)
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Banana (colouring pencil and biro on brown paper)

I did a couple of drawings of flowers after I had enjoyed doing my Iris pictures so much, but found that they lacked the depth and detail of the irises, I think that I just prefer the colours and the shape and the unusual markings of the irises more than I do on these flowers… they would make good greetings cards but not much else…

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Asiatic lilies from the garden (pastel and biro and pencil on blue pastel paper)
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“The welcoming committee” pansies from the garden

And then I did a few other different pictures, the “Pete the Duck” pic being one of my favourites!

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“Pete The Duck” Otter Falls Cottages, Devon, drawn with felt tip pens, colouring pencils and minimal biro on sugar paper.
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Sea shell, drawn with colouring pencils on brown paper, experimenting with using different colours for shading rather than just black/grey/brown
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My left hand- soft pastels and biro on sugar paper.

Not so happy with the hand one although I like the colours, it came out somewhat chunkier and more manly than my actual hands! Still an interesting and fun picture to draw, it was difficult to achieve the fine detail with soft pastels on a paper with a bit more tooth.

Finally I drew some pictures of non famous people, one was a commission piece of work for a birthday present for the person who was the subject of the portrait- and she loved it! wow! the other ones are my cousins, Maisie and Reddvers.

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“Tia” Commission piece for the lady in the pictures’ birthday
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“Reddvers” my young cousin, very sweet photo of him taken by his sister, Maisie
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“Maisie” My cousin, given to her as a gift, graphite pencil and biro on white cartridge paper.

Maisie loved her portrait. She is still very young (13? 14?) but an incredible artist herself, so busy drawing everyone else that she doesn’t do any of herself and nobody else does either, so it was a nice surprise for her to get it!

Re-engaging with the drawing of objects form the garden, animals from photographs and other organic items was so much fun. I enjoyed it and managed to include some of the items from previous work

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Still Life, charcoal on cartridge paper, A1
Charcoal Skll Study Close Up
Portion of the same still life, charcoal on cartridge paper.

As you can see I included the skull that I eventually had in my final piece in these two still life studies. Actually I had never drawn a picture exclusively in charcoal before and though I was at a disadvantage, my paper was flat on the table as I did not have an easel or a drawing board that would allow me to elevate the paper, thus I ended up with a wonky picture with poor perspective as It was being drawn flat on the table. It actually looks worse in the photo than in real life because I had to angle the camera in such a way that it actually took the picture, let alone managing to get the perspective corrected. I will be investing on a tilting A1 drawing board just as soon as I can afford one as it is absolutely essential unless you keeps stopping and standing over the picture and preparing to draw the lines in using a ruler for accuracy, it would really make my work a lot easier to have a board on a stand so that I am facing my work rather than having it stretched out in front of me looking all wonky when I am done with it! still, I had a go and having never drawn a picture exclusively in charcoal before I was actually pleasantly surprised with the results!

Onward to the next module now….

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Squeal! SO much EXCITEMENT!!!

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Just a *little* bit excited!

I’m so excited to announce this upcoming event in my life (it will probably be much more exciting for me than it is for anyone else….) I had been planning to get a huge shed for the back garden in order that I have got my own art studio to work in, somewhere to keep my art materials in their ever growing collective state, somewhere to sit on a comfy chair in front of an electric fire and crochet and listen to music, somewhere to sit and write and enjoy solitude and creativity…. All this planning has been in the pipelines for the last couple of months since I thought about it and made plans to start saving up for the beloved, proposed shed, then out of the blue after a conversation with my mum this morning about how I was going to afford it and go about making it a reality, my lovely parents called me up and told me that they were going to buy me the perfect shed!!!

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The Beautiful Shed Of Creative Dreams!!

This is the fine specimen, with a few alterations, the bottom windows on the double doors will be bocked up to make the doors into double stable doors and the height will be increased to be 6’6″ at the lowest point and 8′ at the highest. It is 8 feet deep and 12 feet wide and plenty big enough for a good sized art, writing and studying studio! I have a man supposedly coming this evening to give me a quote for clearing and flattening the ground where the shed will go and putting in three rows of 2 foot squared two inch thick slabs for the shed to rest on, and then I need to sort out the materials to insulate and clad the inside of the walls and roof to keep it warm and dry,, then I need to get the shed put in and built (can you believe it, they will deliver it for free, then put it up for me as well!?!)

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My going to be beautiful in the summer garden….

When the shed is in place I will be filling in the gaps between the joists with 50mm Celotex insulation sheets cut to size both on the walls and roof, putting down a piece of decent lino, and cladding the whole inside of the shed with reasonably thick MDF/Plywood or similar, filling in the joins with silicone sealant and then painting the whole inside white for maximum light reflecting effect.

When all this is done I will be sourcing a big work table and I already have a swivel chair that I can reupholster and then I can move in my huge book shelf and a couple of chests of drawers and all of my art materials! I am going to get an electrician to run an outside socket from the house so that I can power the shed and heat it in the winter and I will be getting a leather type reclining arm chair with a foot stool or similar in order that I can sit and write and do crochet in there, and jot own ideas in comfort a well as receive visitors to my little workshop!

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Molly-Moo chewing a ball

I have so many ideas and plans for this and cannot wait! (Though I have to sadly!) They will be delivering and erecting the studio-shed at the beginning of September, and I am SO excited! I know that it will be a few weeks of working with the place to get it just so before I move in officially, but I am so excited to get all my things in there and start working in there! The company supplying the shed are really popular and booked up all the way until August, so I will just have to be patient!

I can’t wait to put pot plants outside the widows and hang hanging baskets off the corners, then I would REALLY like to get some jasmine or wisteria or clematis to grow up trellising all around the end side of the building, something really beautiful and butterfly and bee attracting so that I can enjoy the local flora and fauna whilst I work. Our garden is already a haven for beautiful things, we are avid growers of fruit and veg and herbs and flowers and the garden is looking set to be beautiful this year with nearly 60 varieties of edible plants, strawberries, apples, pears, cherries, peach, plums, so many veg I couldn’t name them all and loads of fragrant herbs and spices too. We do all our growing in pots and raised beds so it’s all very manageable and this year we put up a screen fence to stop the neighbours cats from coming in and crapping in all of our plants and also to stop Molly the hooligan pooch from buggering off next door to chase said cats (and being unceremoniously swiped across the face with a set of razor sharp claws in the process!) and all the veg we have sown is starting to come through in their plug pots. We even have Kohlrabi and butternut squash this year!

FENCE!!!!
getting there in the garden- the shed will be on the far right hand side of this picture….

I know this has been a bit of a deviation from the usual art related posts but I am so excited about this development because it will enable me to completely immerse myself in the creative process and really turn out the work that I feel I am capable of. Rather than sitting in front of the television with a drawing board on my lap and getting distracted by whats happening in the house like the need to wash up or do laundry or clean or cook or…… all things that are procrastination and deflecting techniques that my brain throws out at me because I think that there is still a little part of me that is frightened of making art because of what happened all those years ago. Well, guess what. It’s time to take my art back. It’s time to reclaim my creativity and flourish in my own creative space.

EDIT: news just in…… my folks have offered to pay for the ground to be cleared and prepared and the slabs laid!! I can’t believe it! I’m so excited!!!