Monday, August 8, 2011

Switch Hands if You Have to: Kay Deardorff Gets Back to Painting

What happens when artists stop making art? In this blog series, we hear from artists who have restarted making art after a hiatus and how they got back into their studio practice. 
Kay Deardorff, untitled left handed painting
I had been nursing an injury in my right shoulder (probably from weight lifting) for months. I was finally able to hit a bucket of golf balls and was anxious to get back to playing.  I had a few minutes of pleasure in the studio to put some finishing touches on an oil painting of a life size Zebra head that I was doing for our bedroom. I hadn’t been painting much lately. As it goes with most creative people some days are diamonds, some days are pearls and some days are just coal. I’d been having lots of coal days. What I did paint I wasn’t happy with and nothing inspired me. Oh, well, I thought! It’ll come back. Little did I know my life was going to take a huge detour and I was not going to be a happy camper.

As is so often the case, I don’t remember much about what happened. I was going out to the garage when I apparently missed the first of three steps. Instead of going straight down I turned (my husband, Max, said it was a lovely pirouette) hitting my left leg on the step and my right shoulder on the pavement.

A trip to the doctor confirmed my suspicions, a broken right humerus under the ball of the shoulder. That day began a love/hate relationship with my newest very best friend, my sling.

As the days went by, the depression set in, you know the kind.... You know those uncreative thoughts I was having? Well, of course, now everything I saw looked like a painting and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. Cob webs were collecting in the studio and that depressed me even more.

By 2 1/2 weeks out, I am feeling like whale poop, wondering if I will ever be normal again, although my friends would say I was never normal to begin with. My night time cries were “I don’t know how long I can do this!” I need a lift and quick. The Bible teaches us to thank God in all things (1 Th 5:16) What? Not just when you win the lottery? Ok, I really don’t feel like thanking anyone for a broken arm, so I’d better come up with something.

Then the saving grace, a painting. In the studio, my husband squeezing paint tubes and adjusting the canvas on my easel, away I went slapping on thick paint with a palette knife with my LEFT hand! A landscape, of course, so no need to worry about detail. Success! Not a half bad painting and a very good confidence builder. Thank God for a left hand and the flowing creative juices!

Since then my attitude, which needed adjustment, has much improved. I am thankful that each day is better and if not, I know the next one will be.

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