Learning To Draw Again

I’d like to begin by thanking all of you who take the time to post your sketches on the internet.  Without them, the last year would have been miserable for me.  I haven’t been able to draw myself and your art kept me inspired and hopeful that I would, some day, be able to return to creating sketches of my own.

Those of you who have followed my blog (both of you) know that I’ve been dealing with some health issues for the past year.  I’m happy to report that I may be seeing some light at the end of this long tunnel.

I’ve been poked and prodded endlessly, CT-scanned, eco-grammed, candy-grammed and other miscellaneous-grams in an attempt to find out why my inflammation blood factors were off the charts.  This has been terribly frustrating and it didn’t solve my problems, which amounted to me having no energy, loss of appetite, loss of 25 lbs, and joints that hurt constantly.  Many days I had a hard time walking but the real problem was that my left hand wouldn’t allow me to draw.

But after they eliminated every disease known to man (the silver lining is that I’ve had the most exhaustive physical imaginable and passed all test(ssssss), I was handed to a rheumatologist, a wonderful woman who is now my hero.  We spent two hours together as I received more prodding and a lot of joint squeezing, bending and stretching.  By my estimate a gazillion questions were asked and answered.  Then it was time for a cortisone shot in my particularly bad knee and fluid was drained for analysis.  Oh…and drugs were prescribed to knock down my general inflammation.

Roughly two weeks later, that’s working.  The annoying cane I’ve been hobbling around on is starting to collect dust and my hand(s) are getting so I can think about drawing again.  I still have a hard time using my thumb in any way to hold a pen though.  I’ve been drawing endless numbers of circles and ellipses in an attempt to eliminate an almost lumpy nature to those objects as I try to find a pen I can hold so those glitches don’t occur while I draw.

I’m also dabbling with painting shapes/volumes and relying less on line to sort of skirt around these problems, though I’m horrible at it and still confess to enjoy pen driving too much to be happy with that approach.  Nevertheless, my energy has returned, I’m walking and I’m ready to fly.  Yvan and I are heading for a sketching session Monday morning and I’m quite excited about it.

I’ll leave you with this simple, poor drawing of an onion.  I did a simple, lumpy outline and then did the paint, adding some more lines when everything was dry.  It was done in my quick-sketch (ie – cheap) notebook and it was like painting on a blotter but I enjoyed the fact that shapes were being made, which is the important thing.

29 Responses to “Learning To Draw Again”

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  1. BETTYJO BENNETT RUBLE says:

    I have always heard if you can draw and paint onions, then you can paint anything! That being said, YOU ARE on your way! Thanks for sharing! Will look forward to your progress paintings!

    • While I was frustrated by the paper while drawing this one, I was struck by how many ways one could do it, depicting the onion as a smooth, simple entity, as a a ball with a lot of subtle color changes, an object with peeling surface, etc. I’ll do it again, but using good paper so I can move the color around a bit more. — Larry

  2. Lynne Howard says:

    I’m so happy your improving Larry and I’m so sorry that you have been so ill.
    I hope you continue to improve and someday he able to sketch like you want. In the meantime I feel this sketch looks pretty fantastic!

  3. Larry! I’m so happy to hear that things are improving for you! I’ve been sending you all the good vibes. Here’s hoping your recovery now is swift and that you begin to enjoy many happy hours sketching with many many more to come.

    • Thanks, Robin. I’m sure those good vibes helped a lot. It seems like forever since I last went on a big sketchcrawl (Aug 2017 when Liz Steel came to Montreal). My recovery seems swift, however, and I’m ready to go. — Larry

  4. Paula says:

    Happy you are able to paint this beautiful onion, Larry!!!

  5. Larry, I am SO glad you’re on the way back! What was your rheumatologist’s diagnosis? That sounds so much like rheumatoid…is it autoimmune?

    And I think your onion sings with hope!

    • This whole saga started when my right knee started hurting the day Liz Steel, Marc Taro Holmes, Anne-Laure Jacquet and I walked/sketched from morning to night in Montreal. I had to leave the next day during the ‘offiicial’ sketchcrawl with a larger group because the knee was hurting to badly. Ultimately that was diagnosed as osteoarthritis and it’s now sufficiently bad that I’l have to have a knee replacement in the near future. But they found my inflammation levels were so high that they didn’t want to send me down that road until they could figure out what was causing it.

      And so here I am. They have concluded that I have rheumatoid arthritis, which is mostly hitting my wrists, thumbs, knees and one elbow (grin). Maybe those are the only joints I use. I’m on prednisone for a month to knock down the inflammation and the results are nothing short of amazing. I’ve also started taking another drug that acts more slowly but that should keep it under control. Hope so. All I know at this point is the rheumatologist has given me my life back. — Larry

  6. Tina Koyama says:

    GREAT news, Larry! I’m really happy for you and will look forward to seeing your new approaches! You’ll be fully up to speed by the time it’s warm enough to sketch outside again! 😉

    • I hope you’re right about that Tina, though I’m going to have to have knee replacement surgery and with my luck it will happen this summer 🙁 If nothing else, though, the time away from sketching has gotten me reading a lot more and thinking about alternative approaches as we’ve discussed. We’ll see what the future provides. — Larry

  7. Laure Ferlita says:

    What incredibly good news, Larry! I look forward to seeing where the journey takes you and I love the fact that you’re finding ways around (and through) these challenges! You inspire me.

    • Thanks, Laure. One thing about being kept from your passion is that it gives you time to contemplate that passion. I’ve been reading, thinking, and evaluating the approaches that other sketchers take to their craft in a way I didn’t do when I was sketching every day. As frustrating as it’s been, it was really an opportunity in many ways. If only my left thumb would cooperate (grin). — Larry

  8. Jean Mackay says:

    Larry- what a trying year you’ve had! I hope you’ll continue toward good health and full use of your drawing hand! I have missed seeing your sketches and will gladly enjoy whatever strokes you can muster. Be well!

    • It’s funny, Jean, but in spite of not being able to walk, having lost all of my hand strength and living with a general malaise, THE problem I had was not being able to draw. It sucked such a large part of my life away. We all talk about how important our sketching is but wow…it’s really true (grin). — Larry

  9. Good to hear my friend! I feel for you and what you went through. Been through something similar where I couldn’t hold a brush or a pencil. Diagnosed with cervical stenosis. This caused a pinched nerve in my neck that runs down the arm!UGH!! It was devastating at the time. But back to normal( with meds)! Sooo keep smiling ang you wonderful sense of humor. It’s like riding a bike…you will producing many great masterpieces down the road,andilook forward to seeing them !
    Be well

    • It seems we’re all destined to have problems as we go through life. I got to spend most of my life without so much as a broken bone so I think my time was due. It’s what happens when we get beyond the problem that matters and I hope to make the most of it. As for masterpieces, I produced none before arthritis so I doubt many will occur with it, but I’ll try. — Larry

  10. Krista Wells says:

    Larry, I’ve not been keeping up on blogs much at all for quite some time so I had no idea you were ailing. I’m happy to have popped in now, just when you have some good news to report. May your recovery continue and may your only pains be saddle sores from getting back on the horse! Cheers!

    • You didn’t miss much Krista. I’m hoping for some of those saddle sores. While I was out of commission I bought a new WalkStool which is taller than my old one because my legs just won’t endure my shorter one. I’m hoping that new stool will rub my butt raw as I sketch up a storm. — Larry

  11. Arlene Lennox says:

    Looking forward to having you back in the saddle!

  12. Susan King says:

    So glad to hear that you have begun to feel better! Every day is an adventure.

  13. Very happy to hear you’re finally getting some answers and some relief! And Happy Sketching tomorrow!

  14. Michelle Weatherson says:

    From the number of comments Larry, I’d say you have far more than two readers! So happy that you found a doctor who could help and that you are on the mend. Wishing you all the best sketching in 2019!

  15. Inge Leonora-den Ouden says:

    Wish you the best … to show how many people read your blog 🙂

  16. Arlie Thee says:

    You have been missed. Keeping good thoughts for you!

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