After doing a drawing to test out a small set of Faber-Castell 9000 pencils, my arm started to hurt and I got a large green bruise between my index finger and middle finger on my right hand. Then tendinitis set in and I had to take a break.
I have had chronic tendinitis since 1987, but it has died down in the last five years, and my hand often bruises easily when I grip things too tightly. It’s obvious that I’m going to have to put on a tendon cuff when drawing and limit my time to avoid an acute flare-up that will stop me from doing anything for weeks. In retrospect, this might have been the reason I couldn’t keep up with a daily sketch nine years ago, and why I don’t draw as often as I get the urge to.
I am plugging away at my first exercise for cornbread and doing a little each day. I had to switch from coloured pencil to watercolour to lay down colour faster and release the pencil death-grip that causes me pain.
I could scream and cry and get all uptight, and throw things and say “I can’t do it!”or I could say “This is where I am, what can I do?”
1) I can do 30 minutes a day comfortably. In one week that is 3.5 hours of making art.
I often cite Sally Warner’s book Making Room for Making Art, which allows you to remain flexible whether you have little time or like me, chronic pain.
2) I can experiment with different materials for 3.5 hours per week.
3) I can improve my skill in drawing angles and ellipses and all those shapes that defeat my eyes and hand by practicing for 3.5 hours per week.
4) I can become more familiar with mixing and using watercolours during those 3.5 hours per week.
5) Some sketches will turn out and some won’t. Keep a record and look through them at the end of the year and see the improvements made using this 3.5 hours per week.
It’s better than doing nothing and whining at the end of the year that I can’t do anything. I’ve done that before, it isn’t fun at all. Sally Warner sums it up:
“Cultivate self-discipline by staying connected to the reason you are making art. Be self-disciplined about what you make: Carry out your plan.”