|Art from B.C.~~before chemo. Cranked out a series of these.|
This is not my usual tongue-in-cheek post but a bit more serious and hopefully you'll read along. Not boring, a little more observational. I promise I will make it up with one of my off the wall posts....join me now...this is my life at the moment.
I write about returning to painting after chemo and the challenges it presents, but mostly, how I have observed what was going on and stepped into the role of "documenting" as opposed to frustrated artist.
First off, "chemo brain" is real and differs for each person. I experienced driving home from the grocery and trying to remember what road to take, concluding that I would have to take a route I have not driven for YEARS. That was NOT a Hallmark Moment.....so the motherboard was working fine, but the RAM was seriously messed up. I knew that. I accepted it.
I just did not think it would have an affect on painting, or art. I've done this all my life, and I felt it was so deeply ingrained into my being that nothing could be lost. It was me and I was it and the chemo would just make me a little more out in left field. I had managed with the side effects of neuropathy in both fingers and toes (pain, and nominal feeling/control), had learned to hold things with what I called my *Super-Monkey-Grip* and so I surely could do the same with paint brushes.
I could slop gesso. Good.
I could use tools in place of trying to hold small objects with my fingers. Good.
I could manage abstract backgrounds for assemblage. Good.
And then I sat down to try and recreate a style of work I had done over and over.
And the brain chose not to be present.
|This is what I'm trying to recreate......BUT.....|
|This is pretty much what the brain sees, and is NOT CO-OPERATING one bit.|
It was the oddest feeling I'd had through EVERYTHING; here I was looking at my own art, and trying to figure out HOW DID I MAKE THIS???
There were two options; one being to quit and find something else to do (not an option, really) ~~OR~~ distance myself from the confusion and look at the piece as if someone else had made it and I was trying to copy it.
I am guessing only that I was engaging the left brain now, and the right brain would have it's say later.
I mentally dissected what I *thought* would work, starting with the basics of pulling paints and gel mediums. I studied and studied, noting each wash of color and what was underneath. I began to slowly remember a few of the colors I used, but the rest were pure guessing.
Then came the issue of painting the background. I had done this all by rote without a thought previously, and now I was not even sure which BRUSH it was I normally used. Breathe deep...let the hand wander.
*It* picked the right one, and began laying down paint as I had before, but the sensation was one of being someone else watching that hand work. It took some adjusting to accept that THIS was going to be the norm for a while. This was painting after chemo; suck it up and watch away.
Honestly, it is fascinating in a bizarre way. I am aware of the thought that goes into the work, and also how the body actually has it's own memory. I just start work and let things happen.
Bit by bit, I begin to remember all the tools of the trade. I may not be sure how I used them, but I know they are important, and keep them close visually. That seems to get the neurons firing right.
I am really understanding on a different level why art therapy works so well.
As I was able, during treatment, I began my daily journaling again, faithfully, three pages longhand, sometimes five, to keep the skill of writing active and force my fingers to move, to make words, to grip the pen.
Typing however, is still a hilarious mish-mash. The dyslexia that was a blip on the radar screen before is now an incoming 747, on a continual crash course with the keyboard. Thank heaven's for FireFox's built in spell check!
I accept this.
No fighting, just observing, making notes.
Because it is better to be HERE, facing these interesting challenges, than the other option......
|And finally, some success~~the new piece at about the halfway stage; more ability to remember now and push forward.|
Never take for granted what you do without thinking.
But seeing it through new eyes, well, it's pretty impressive!
Now I have to go see what my hands can get into.....