I recently recovered from a year-long injury that greatly impacted my art. I had a ligament tear in my dominant hand’s thumb. Anyone who has dealt with a thumb injury knows full well why humans (and other opposable thumb bearing animals)really appreciate the thumb and all of its capabilities.
As a result of this injury, I started creating with my non-dominant left hand. I was not fully on board with this until my sweetheart pushed my “challenged, I’ll show you” button. Thank goodness he did this for me!
I started using a watercolor cake set because of its portability – I was determined to do one painting a day. This “forced” creating method benefitted me in many ways. I, through little control of my own, was able to create more abstractly, my painting really loosened up, I learned much more about watercolor so I didn’t dislike the media anymore, and I learned forgiveness for my art. During the year-long process I had a sudden revelation. I did not judge the results of each day’s exercise as harshly as I would have if I had done the same work with my “right” hand.
Also, my sister-in-law and fellow artist Kathleen Kvern introduced me to intuitive painting processes. I could paint with my hands and I finally got the cool and warm color concept down pat.That concept may be a given to you but I had very little learning of color theory.
The long term impact has been a greater appreciation for my health and well-being and my ability to create, I have learned to listen to warning signs and take care in a more conscious manner and I am glad to have had the experience. Many shared similar stories with me – for one reason or another someone’s creative processes either had to change or the artist made the choice. So many valuable lessons were shared with me.
I also now have felt the sayings, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” and “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Prior to the injury I was growing in several creative directions at once, moving away from my master artist role of natural materials basketry and all things wild – birch bark, porcupine quills, roots and more. The injury made it very difficult to anything that required to hands so I was very grateful for my awkward left handed brush grip. During the last 2 months, I was getting stagnant in my painting – my mind wasn’t flooded with its usual creative ideas. I started working with natural materials again, and once I did, the creative flow became a flood.
Birch bark work, porcupine quill embroidery, pastel drawings, mono-printing, weaving, acrylic paintings, spray-paint paintings and more make up the body of my work.
I guess I’ll never be a “watercolor artist”, an “oil painter”, a “potter” or any of the other many creative venues. I am proud to say that I am creative though. No boxes for me means that the creative world is wide open to me! Experiment, try, try again and you will find your niche!