Goals and Physical Problems Attaining Them

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.”


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2 Responses to Goals and Physical Problems Attaining Them

  1. chloetarot says:

    That is definitely a tough but worthwhile lesson. About a decade ago, I got chronic shinsplints from overdoing exercise on a hard floor with bad footwear. I went from doing an average of an hour and a half of step or hi-low to not being able to walk up the stairs to my apartment, overnight. It took me a long time to come to terms with that, but I found other ways to exercise (I got a static bike, which became my best friend). Last year, I started doing the occasional step workout again (love the choreography). I still have to do low impact variations on everything, and not do it too often, or my shins start hurting again, but I`ve learned to live with that. Hope you manage to really enjoy your half hours, and see the beauty in them!


    • Yeah, they never tell you that with nerve pain you can do permanent damage.

      It’s a bit frustrating and brings back unhappy memories of struggling to get through a day of work with 5 cuffs on. I don’t want to live like that again. The cuff seems to be helping, but I have to wear it at the computer too again. Sigh.


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