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Essential Tremor

Last week I received a diagnosis of essential tremor. In the past right before I retired in 2013, I noticed occasional head jerks. I thought that was stress due to our stressful environment. When I retired, that went away. However, during the summer of 2019, I had some trauma. I tore one of my hamstrings. I’m am sure that I have never felt such pain. I was pretty much immobile for three months and still healing for another three months. About a month or so after tearing my hamstring, I had trouble breathing. Once at ER, they diagnosed an atrial flutter. About a month after that diagnosis, in September 2019, I had a heart ablation surgery to correct the flutter. At about this time, I felt like my head and upper torso was shaking internally. It was not visible, but I could feel it. I asked my cardiologist if the medicine he had me on could cause this. He did not think so but changed my medication. Sometime over the holidays, I noticed that my handwriting Christmas cards was messy most of the time. The handwriting and hand shaking when trying to hold certain things continued after the holidays. I asked my primary in early 2020 for a referral to a neurologist. Then…..

CoVid hit and non-essential medical appointments were curtailed. Sigh.

The shaking continued but it was at random times and not always occurring. This month, I finally saw a neurologist. After putting me through a typical neurological exam, he gave me the diagnosis of essential tremor. He said that as it gets worse, medication might help, but might also interfere with my heart medicine. He said that ultrasound treatment has shown promising results. I decided to do a six-month follow-up and at that time, will decide further about various treatment options.

My chief concern, of course, is my painting ability. Right now, my symptoms are considered mild. I sometimes have to support my arm when painting details, but it isn’t bothering me too much when I’m painting loosely or with a palette knife.

I’ve also been reading up on ET (essential tremor, not the movie). It seems that it never goes away and gets worse. There is no known “cure” at this time. It is a hereditary gene. Some get it; some do not. (My dad’s hands shook; my sister’s head shakes.)

If anyone out there knows more about this, I’d love to hear about what you know or might have personally experienced. And for those who know me personally, they know I will be strong through this and fight a good battle. <3

How Do You Do It?

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I do understand your question. I feel it. I majored in art education but never taught art. My life took a different path. I dabbled in oils and acrylics, silversmithing, beading and pottery. Now I’m retired and got into a bunch of clubs for these different mediums. I quit the clubs. Now, I’m focusing on acrylics and education about painting principles and techniques. I paint a lot and take as many free and less expensive lessons. I know I will visit my oils again soon, but my focus is minimizing and concentrating on mastering (to a point) my Acrylic medium. Later I will move on to possibly other mediums again, like my oils. I think that learning some real basics and applying them whether to acrylics or oils, my painting will only get better. That’s how I decided to declutter my brain and to focus on one or two mediums at a time. Do I miss the other mediums? Yes, but for once, I want to see proficiency in one area.

Sometimes I pose rhetorical questions. This is not one of them. I really want to know how you do it — “it” being the process of art. I contemplate …

How Do You Do It?
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Thursday Lunch & Learn Painting Classes, offered for free by Plaid, provides a weekly painting project on their FB page. Andy B Jones is often the teacher for this class. This last week’s Lunch & Learn was a pumpkin patch painted by Andy. His lesson was to paint this on a palette-type board that he found at one of the large craft box stores.

I did not have a palette-type board and didn’t want to order one. So, I improvised. I took a regular 16×20 canvas and glued (Elmer’s) Japanese paper to the canvas for texture. I let this dry overnight and then trimmed the paper. I then drew with ink plank lines 2 inches apart. I then “stained” the canvas with a mixture of acrylic Asphaltum and Veridian. I used Folk Art Pure Pigment and Original Folk Art paints for this.

After the background dried, I transferred my pattern. I layered the paint on my pumpkins using a dry brush method. I started with Pueblo, added Pure Orange (two coats), then Medium Yellow and Pure Orange, then Yellow Light and Pure Orange, and then Titanium White in a few places. For the stems, I used Asphaltum and Veridian.

When all the paint dried, I added some Napthol Crimson, Copper Gold, and Fire Opal Gold for a few highlights.

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This has nothing to do with painting, but…

BANANAS: What do you do with overly ripe bananas that are not yet brown? Here is what I’ve been doing for a few years now:

  1. Peel and cut into chunks. Put chunks into a freezer bag and freeze. (They do not brown when frozen.)
  2. Add frozen chunks to protein shakes and smoothies.
  3. Blend eggs, banana chunks and a little milk to make great pancakes.
  4. Blend banana chunks, yogurt and ice to make ice cream. Can always add flavoring. Add milk if it’s too thick, but you want it frozen like ice cream, so be careful adding liquids.
  5. Add frozen banana chunks to banana bread recipe.

I’m single and seem to never be able to eat a batch of bananas before they get too ripe. A neighbor told me about the ice cream recipe a few years ago. Now, after a few days of ripening, I just peel, cut in chunks and freeze my bananas. You could do this with other fruit as well, but I generally just buy frozen berries to use with my frozen bananas.

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My Pumpkin

This pumpkin was fun to do using some mixed media. I took a 12×16 canvas board and with a trowel spread on some modeling paste. I then took a sponge and dabbed it all over the canvas to give it a sponge-type texture. I knocked down any really large peaks with a palette knife. Then I let the board dry thoroughly. In AZ, that can be two to four hours. Others might need to wait 24 hrs. I then used a light gray mixture of acrylic paint and painted the board. I then transferred my pumpkin pattern. I use graphite paper to transfer. On this I used a gray color of transfer paper. For the background colors, I used a creamy mixture of paint to cover the gray. Afterwards, I used a dry brush to overlay some paint onto the textured surface. The pumpkin itself, I used mostly dry brushing and just added layers of white. In the crevases of the pumpkin, I used a wash of asphaltum, some green, and some blue. I also added some orange in places as some additional color enhancing. Then, a little more dry brushing white highlights. The pumpkin stem is asphaltum and white. This was a fun painting. The pattern and lesson was from AB Jones through Plaid. I love that the texture affected this painting when creating a 3D effect. /per

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Art Sites that I Like

I belong to the FB group Let’s Paint with Plaid, I enjoy Andy B Jones as a teacher, as well as Chris Williams. This FB group is like a loving family community. The group offers free tutorials every Tuesday and Thursday. They are also affiliated with Plaid Crafts and some of the studio lessons and monthly lessons are awesome. They also recently started a Master Class that people can register to participate.

I follow Art by David Jansen, David provides lessons on florals and landscapes, as well as tutorials on YouTube

I follow Learn to Paint Academy, There are FB tutorials, as well as lessons/challenges you can sign up for on this site.

I follow Feliks Kaparchuck, Feliks also has YouTube tutorials, lessons on his Color by Feliks website, and on his FB page.

I’m following other artists, but these are the ones I frequent the most, thus far. Why? The lack of expensiveness for one reason. I also like their works and lessons. As time rolls on, I will find others I like and will post. /per

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Wheels Up

My website launched today! One might wonder why I titled this “Wheels Up”. Those who are in the Air Force or from an Air Force family (or pilots/pilot families of any type) will understand that “Wheels Up” is “taking off” for a flight. I have used “wheels up” for road trips and now for this blog.

I am an Air Force Brat. Our family began using this term for many accomplishments, not just for flying. It’s taken two and a half months to get this e-commerce website developed and published. I’m excited and anxious. I’m excited about this new endeavor. I’m anxious because I’m taking a risk. There are hundreds of artist sites and I’m not sure how well I will connect with social media sites and blog sites in order to develop a following. But, I am hopeful.

I am hopeful. I hope that people like and follow my site. I hope that my paintings can bring people joy and comfort, as they do to me. I have a tattoo that states, “Forward w/Purpose”. I believe this! We must be brave and move forward with purpose, no matter our age. Take risks, and move forward. Make choices, and move forward. Live your journey, and move forward. /per

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I am an Artist

I am an Artist! Wow!! It’s been forever to be able to state that I am an artist. Over the years, people recognized some talent, but I never considered myself an artist. What makes an artist an artist? Is it that they publish? Sell? Have a following? I think it is when the artist believes they are an artist. Yes, I’m a person with talents. I sew/tailor, crochet, play a concert flute and a Native American flute, paint, silversmith, potter, sing and others. However, I feel I can call myself an artist now because I feel, in painting, that my talent has grown enough that I can create my own take on ideas, even if I’m taking a class or using somebody’s pattern. I have enough confidence to put my “spin” on the painting. Does this make sense?

Talent is something we learn. It comes easy for some. I learned in high school, that if you don’t at least try something, you might never know what you are capable of accomplishing. I also suppose that some talent is a natural thing, such as being able to carry a tune. But, can carrying a tune also be learned? I learned in grade school to read music. Trust me though, I am not a great singer or flutist. I simply never practiced hard enough. Painting can be learned. There are many technical aspects to painting that if participating in those lessons, one can technically learn to paint. I think painting also takes intuition to know what colors to use, when to “stop”, when a painting might need more. I have not had a lot of technical training in painting, but with the little I have and with my intuition, I am fairly happy with what I have accomplished. I have more to learn and as long as my brain and hands continue to work, I will accomplish more. This is a journey. /per