Reconstruction

At the invitation of Chris I joined a group on Facebook that posts drawing prompts. I just did my first one. It wasn’t easy, but it would have been easy four months ago. It took two tries. It’s OK, but not exactly “me.” That said, I’m happy with it because I learned something from it and it’s not ugly.

There’s a book by Laurence Durrell that’s very inspiring to me as an artist — that is the last book in the Alexandrian Quartet: Clea. Every artist has obstacles within him/herself. The most common is fear. But there are skill obstacles (which are frustrating but IMO fun to push through), vision obstacles (both objective and mental), intellectual (putting the idea of how something should be in front of what it IS or wants to be), and something else which I don’t have a word for. I discovered when I was trying to put together Rainbow Girls in Wheatland Wyoming soon after I had Covid. I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I could paint/draw it — I did draw it. It was something else that I had not experience before, it was that I couldn’t “see” the painting in my mind’s eye. I don’t know how to explain that, but it’s a real thing. I paint TOWARD something which is, for me, like starting a relationship. “Hi, my name is Martha,” kind of and the painting answers and we “talk” in colors and images and there it is, a kind of dance or dialogue.

Now, for me, it’s like sitting at a dinner with people who are talking around you, even to you, and you understand maybe two words out of five? Not enough to make a sentence or get the big picture. As I was working on this little watercolor/watercolor pencil piece, just a small still life of a dish that has a lot of meaning to me, I could feel it. I could feel the brush saying, “Are you there? I can’t hear you clearly.” I don’t need to relearn the technique of painting. I need to FEEL the relationship between my eye, my mind and my hand.

In Durrell’s book, the character, Clea, is a painter, but (in her mind) something has always been missing from her paintings. The book is set in North Africa in WW II and if I remember the story correctly, Clea loses a hand diving in the bay and hitting a mine. I don’t remember why she was doing that — but that’s I believe what happened. Her hand is replaced with a prosthetic hand. She has to learn to paint with it and, to her surprise, she is able to paint from her authentic self with that hand, something she had never been able to do. Durrell’s books are wonderful, unforgettable, but I read them a long time ago and don’t have them any more so I can’t check my memory or put something beautiful here to share.

Covid affects the brain and the connections between the brain and bodily functions — digestion, breathing and thinking. I don’t know why I got “long Covid” but I did. Grrrrrrrrrr…… 🤬 Anyway, I can’t let this beat me out of the ONE thing I have fought for my whole fucking life.

23 thoughts on “Reconstruction

  1. The watercolor is beautiful.

    I wonder: will your brain form new “artist” connections to replace those Covid messed up, so that your hand/eyes/mind can restart the conversations of where they want to go, what to create? Maybe some new neural pathways, with new ways to communicate…

    I’m glad you’re not giving up. But then, I’d be shocked if you did ❤

    • Here’s the most disturbing thing. I can’t find it. I just did it, photographed, put it somewhere and now I can’t find it. 😡 I think my brain will probably make new connections, and I think my eyes and hands will remind it of things it has done forever. It’s been very very interesting — through this I’ve been able to understand some things I couldn’t fathom before (love on top of that list, that I should get comfortable walking shoes, some other totally obvious things that always eluded me like taking cuttings of basil and growing them in the house over the winter?) and other things? It’s really very strange.

  2. I’m sad that your connections have faded (I don’t think they are gone). When son#2 and my sister had COVID they both ended up with long COVID. They are both much better now but they had to “retrain” their brains. How did they do it? They just kept doing what they wanted their brain to remember and finally it did!

    • That’s good to know! I just figure it’s going to take time. So far, I’ve worked through other brain problems since then. Yesterday with the fox was a big deal for me. Today was harder, but I think, like this blog which has helped me a lot, it’s just something I have to do everyday and not well. ❤️

  3. I looked at this and thought it was a painting of a fish…on a dish. And I love it, and no, it’s not ugly! I have fish plates like this (mine are a different color) and I so enjoy setting the table with the ‘special’ dishes.
    This painting is the prettiest shade of blue, too.

  4. Interesting on retraining the brain. I think you are correct that practice is the way to go. I’d also throw in some suggestions of switching hands periodically, as that, while frustrating and challenging (and of course you’d like more) will encourage the brain on linking and re-linking connections. What a challenge, indeed. And you’re showing up and doing it! Good on you.

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