Inktober Day 9 – “precious”

Today’s word is “precious”, so I went from a reference photo to see if I could draw a decent image of my sweet Finn as a puppy. In the photo he’s sitting in our neighbor’s yard, under a shower of little white flowers, next to the sidewalk.

My zing factor is medium high, which is pretty good. I’ll take it. That green is special to me, I’ve got one half-pan of that stuff and I horde it – this is a mistake, I either need to mix my own or just buy more. Because that green needs to be on everything, all the time.

One of the things I’m really loving about this project is that all my Inktober pieces are in one little book. I’ll have this little book forever. I’ll always remember this month, this crazy month with all the pain and all the packing up and getting rid of things for the move.

A big clue to me that I needed to start drawing again was this: I love to look back on my old art, but I rarely look back on my diaries. For years, years, I have written like a fiend in a diary or journal. Since I was eight years old or so. And it’s rare for me to look back on them. Maybe once a year do I read them. And when I do, oh, they’re so cringe-inducing.

Looking back on drawings and watercolor sketches I did years ago is a completely different experience. I spend long minutes gazing at one piece, remembering where I was, what the day felt like, what I was thinking at the time. None of that is telegraphed to any other viewer, but I know. The effect is powerful, and moving to me. It’s stronger than with most photos, too. Just the most basic drawings will bring this heavy wave of memory. They don’t have to be “good”. Realizing this was a major reason I decided to start drawing again, even though my past experience with it had been so hard (I had very poor art self-esteem).

Inktober Day 8 – “star”

Things I enjoyed about this:

  • It was fun to mix the colors. I started with the red by itself (Rose Madder from Daniel Smith, mixed with Arctic Fire, because SPARKLES!), and then I just kept adding colors to the rose to make the rest of the colors. A little yellow to get the orange, more yellow to get the yellow, then blue to get the green, then more blue to get the blue, and then more rose to get the purple. Mixing colors is relaxing.
  • I love stars, in general. So yay stars!
  • I used gold ink for the middle, which I applied with a brush. It was fun to paint with what felt like liquid gold. Hi! I’m five. Glitter is still the bomb.

That happy little zing I get from some little pieces of art I do, it wasn’t there with this one. This was more a nice shrug. The Shrug of Niceness. That’s okay! I love the zing, I want more of the zing, the zing is what drives the desire to get better. But if I only made art for the zing, I’d never make art. It helps to know that the zing comes every x times I do art. It’s the intermittent reinforcement that keeps me going. I got a big zing from the one I did yesterday. I still get the zing when I look at it.

And the important thing is that no matter whether the zing is there that day or not, I always feel better off, emotionally, for having made art. However imperfect, however novice, however un-zingy. It’s healing just to use the paints, just to scrape that nib of ink across the paper.

People keep asking me how I’m doing, and it’s hard not to just say, “I’m in pain all the time!“, with the same urgency I’d feel if my answer were, “There’s a tiger right behind me!” Pain can bring with it such urgency. It’s hard to explain how distracting it is, to someone who only gets sore when they workout (ahhhh, workouts, I remember those), or if they stand for hours (I’m in pain when I’m standing, and it gets worse and worse until I have to sit down, usually after about five minutes).

People think it’s just no big deal, but it’s such a big deal. Chronic pain is so exhausting. Mentally, physically. Shoulders, spine, and hips always flaring like fire, always creaky and stiff. What I’m sure must be gravel in my low back. I want to break out of this shell like a caterpillar from a cocoon. Leave it all behind. No, that isn’t suicidal ideation (I promise – I have good support), it’s what I almost literally wish I could do. Somehow crack the shell off and crawl out with a fresh spine, fresh nerves. If I were a good enough artist, I’d draw that.

Oh! I did take some turmeric today, after my friend Elaine suggested it. I’ll give that a few days and see if it works.

Okay, that’s enough about pain. FOR TODAY, muhahaha. You know I’ll talk about it tomorrow.

Inktober Days 6 and 7 – “drooling” and “exhausted”

I missed yesterday, I had some mysterious illness and was on the couch sick for hours. That means I missed yesterday’s Inktober prompt, which was “drooling”. But when I saw that today’s prompt was “exhausted”, well, hello fellow fibromyalgia/CFS sufferers! It’s our word, eh? I knew this had to be my first self-portrait.

So why not put exhausted and drooling together? Here’s me, asleep and drooling.

I took a reference photo of myself, and used a pencil to do some line work before I went in with the ink:

This was really fun to do, because I gave myself enough time! I worked at my little table upstairs, not on the couch with my corgi half in my lap and the TV on to something distracting. Instead I got a snack, I came up and cleared off some space, and I sat down  to do some art. Being intentional about it made for an entirely different experience.

Last night I watched a video on Skillshare from Yasmina Creates about pen and ink. It was great, I was surprised how much information she packed in to just a half hour video! One of the things she went over was hatching and stippling, which I really need to practice but that’s fine because I love it, as well as how to take care of ink nibs, and brushes that you use with ink, and a bunch of other things. I tried to use some hatching in today’s piece, and I’m moderately pleased with the results. I can see how I need to get better at it, but for a first go, I’m liking it a lot. I get the little zing of happiness from this one (that I sadly didn’t feel from the chicken, lol).

My forehead is also way bigger than I thought it was! Proportion, it’s a thing. And the upper left side of my forehead isn’t actually so squared off, but that falls under, Oh Well, I’ll Do Better Next Time. Such a nice heading that is. I put everything under it these days.

What really matters is how much joy I feel when I draw and paint, and I felt that tonight. I was having a hard day before this. The pain continues to be awful (I feel like it’s a fall/winter thing, but taking loads of Vitamin D don’t seem to be helping, and I’m not yet willing to move to California), and there comes a point where I just feel broken down by it. Being in pain all the damn time is the most distracting thing I can think of, and I hate it, so much. It interrupts my thoughts, my sleep, my every waking moment. It like a Pac-Man in the brain that just looks for any happy chemical your body produces and rushes over to it, gobbling it up.

When I draw and paint, it puts more of the good chemicals out there. Oh sure, Pac-Man will eat them up, later. I know. I’ll wake up tonight and have to walk to the bathroom with this crazy stiff spine and hips, gripping the end of the bed, trying not to exhale from the pain so loudly that Greg wakes up. But tomorrow I can draw and paint again. I can make happiness happen, with a tiny little sketchpad and a set of paints and a brush and a glass of water.

Inktober Day 5 – “Chicken”

The obvious answer here is “draw something earlier”, and I will work on that, but I spend much of the day, lately, dealing with pain. The fibromyalgia is just awful. Or chronic fatigue syndrome? I’m tired of not knowing which one it is. Is it one? Or the other? Or both? IS IT THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG? Except that isn’t the right analogy since fibro and CFS aren’t related like that, but hey, I worked in a chicken analogy on the day of the chicken, so….that is a small kind of accomplishment I suppose*.

Tomorrow is DROOLING. I know what I said about enjoying the prompts, but here is the exception. I don’t want to draw “drooling”. I might draw something else. It won’t be official Inktober theme day, but it will be Something I Inked On Day 6, which might just be good enough for me.

*If you hear Kiera Knightly’s voice when you read this, then you’ve watched Ang Lee’s Pride and Prejudice as often as I have.