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Full Speed Ahead… Sort Of

September 15, 2011

“I draw.  I paint.  My shoulder hurts.”

I’m not sure where I first saw that phrase, but I know I’m stealing it from another artist.  So I use it with humble apologies and great thanks.  It’s so true.  After several days of extreme discomfort, which started as a sharp pain  just under my right shoulder blade, continued up to my shoulder, then down to a dull ache in my elbow and a tingling numbness in a couple of fingers of my right hand, I finally decided it was time to visit the doctor.  The shoulder and elbow pain has been chronic for years, coming and going, generally in direct correlation with extended periods of computer (mouse) time, or several hours of painting over a couple of days.  The sensation in my fingers was something new, very much like that electric shock tingle you get if you hit a certain bone in your elbow.  But this was lingering pain and continuous numbness over about four days.  I didn’t like it.  First, it was something new for me, and second, drawing and painting were becoming painful activities.  It’s also kept me off the computer, which is probably not all bad.

The doctor diagnosed it as a pinched nerve, and prescribed drugs that should begin to ease the condition.  It’s only been a full day, but it can start to work any time now, as far as I’m concerned.  I’m tired of it.  In fact, I had no idea how many typos could be created with a numb index finger.

I just didn’t want to let the blog sit much longer with no activity.  At least now my subscribers (bless you one and all) will know what’s going on.

It appears that using the computer is still more painful than wielding a pencil or brush.  The doctor didn’t restrict me from doing anything I felt like doing.  So, because I just couldn’t stand another day sitting in front of the TV reading, I’ve started a new painting.  It’s based on a couple of photos I took in Ohio’s Amish country a few weeks back.  It’s also another large piece.  As I’ve said before, 20×30 is very large for me as a gouache painter.  Here’s my preliminary pencil sketch:

And below is the initial block-in with pretty wet, transparent washes.  As I’ve noted before, at this stage, it almost has the appearance of having been laid in with big fat color markers.  Since I don’t have many huge brushes, this was done with #4 and #6 bristle filberts.  Actually, I do have a couple of larger brushes, and as I look at this stage, I just might do some experimenting with more washes before I start to apply thicker paint.  We’ll see.

So now I paint.  For a while, at least.  Hopefully, the most painful part will have been the act of typing this article.

But then, I’m an artist.  I draw, and I paint.  And sometimes my shoulder hurts.

I’ll get over it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2011 12:22 pm

    Love your preliminary, Ralph. Nice lines. Maybe it’s time to get some big bristles. They are definitely fun to paint with, and you’ll cover more canvas…protect that arm. Any idea how you pinched the nerve? Hopefully, you have a quick recovery. I’ll stay tuned. Best, Candace.

  2. julie Myers permalink
    September 15, 2011 12:42 pm

    Hope you get better soon and a great start to the painting!

  3. September 15, 2011 12:42 pm

    Hi Ralph,
    I’ve enjoyed following your blog for quite a while now. I love your style and how you habdle gouache.

    I am a Massage Thaerapist and am wondering if you’ve tried massage therapy for your shoulder?? Regular massage therapy by a well trained, professional, and caring practioner can have a profound effect on your health and wellness. It can make huge difference, without the dependency and side effects of drugs. It can also work with the medication, just be sure to let the therapist know what your taking. Also, as long as you do not have arthritis in your shoulder or Raynaud’s Sydrome, icing your shoulder to help promote healing and reduce inflammation at least twice a day for 20 minutes each time can be very helpful. I hope you recover quickly, but be patient with yourself.

  4. Wayside Artist permalink
    September 15, 2011 2:52 pm

    Wow! Thanks for posting the early stages of your work. Seeing the drawing is particularly interesting. I have wondered about how much detail is under your gouache paintings.

    Stay off the computer!!! I’ve been where you are and the mouse is lethal. Earlier this year I switched to a laptop and have fewer shoulder, arm, finger spasms. Ha! But now the fingertips are complaining from over use.

    Get well. I love your blog. Will be waiting for when you feel better.


  5. September 18, 2011 8:46 am

    Thanks so much for all the tips you give that allow those less accomplished painting addicts….such as myself….to have a better understanding of the process. I try to follow and read all your posts. Ed

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