‘May Feelings’ acrylic on canvas about 4 x 5 feet May 2012
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A ‘Red Line’ series is falling into place. It started over a year ago with this painting.
I was awake and wanted to paint. It was 2:00 in the morning. This happened during a workshop taught by Leigh Hyams http://www.artsreal.com/. at Mountain Home Ranch in Calistoga, California. I put some warm clothes on, took my flashlight and went down to the studio. Turning on the lights I brought out a large roll of pre-gessoed canvas, cut off a piece and left it on the floor. I looked and looked, sat by it and walked around it. What am I going to paint? What is in you? Who are you? What do you want to paint about? What are your true feelings inside you. What have been your true feelings? What have you been dealing with? Ah ha! with that question I knew it was easy. I had just been diagnosed with throat cancer. How did I feel about that? What was inside me ? Not what had I been looking at in the real world. So I put some limits on my painting, no familiar shapes or colors. The colors had to all come from within. The painting had to express how I felt about having cancer in me now. What color were my cancer feelings? They sure as hell weren’t pinks, peaches and cream, these colors being my familiar palette. I mixed up a mess of colors and started to paint. I painted with my brushes, with a palette knife, my hands. I didn’t stop until I was done. The painting needed something. I took a tube of red paint and made a red line. The painting was finished. I tacked it up on the wall and walked back up the road to my room as the morning light filled the outside space.
‘Rolled’ acrylic on canvas 4 x 5 feet October 2012
The cancer is gone. New feelings come with new experiences.
This is the beginning of a painting started yesterday celebrating my new birthday, one year after cancer surgery. I am one happy camper. Now I have a few paintings I’ve started. That is the easy part. I have to go back in and adjust or take care of areas that don’t work. This gets tricky because each stroke I make changes the whole painting, so I have more problems to solve. As, Henry J. Kaiser used to say, “Problems are opportunities in work clothes.”
Unfinished Blue Painting acrylic on canvas 52″ x 36″
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One year ago today, I was operated on for cancer at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. During my stay at the hospital, I made little paintings in a moleskine sketchbook. The whole time I was there, I was surrounded by an extensive collection of art. There was a volunteer who brought a cart full of paintings into my room each day. Patients could choose a painting to be hung in their room. Today, I’m going to work on a larger painting started yesterday. A lot can happen in a year. Art heals.
We interrupt this travel series on Artist’s Books, poems and abstract art to bring you an up date on Radiation – 80 Drawings in 80 Days. Six months later and I thought I’d be rid of it all. Spinal accessory nerve injury from surgery resulted in trapezius paralysis and neck stiffness. I couldn’t move my arms up in front of me or up out to the side – not at all. Just finished physical therapy on that one. I graduated with honors.
My speech therapist has put me on a maintenance schedule for strengthening my swallowing. Hopefully, time will heal my voice a little more. I am to continue to let it rest and recuperate after increased usage. Don’t talk on the phone or in noisy resturants. Keep your vocal cords moist. Drink ginger tea. It is an anti-inflammatory treatment. Along with a cancer tumor under the back of my tongue, 70 lymph nodes were taken out so liquids have become my saliva. My taste buds are coming back slowly, but I don’t like chocolate, spaghetti with parmesan cheese, wine, beer! I hope these taste buds comes back.
Listening to NPR I discovered a band called Stew and The Negro Problem. He wrote a song called ‘Speed.’ I weigh 94 pounds. Clothes look great on me. But, the docs want me to gain weight. (I’ve always had the opposite problem) Maybe it’s time to get a little cannabis, eat and stay up late creating brilliant art.
Last week’s drawings were the result of me taking a rest from radiation effects on my body. I stopped blogging about my bout with cancer because I was told my blog was too painful. I wanted to move on. But I kept thinking. This image of what I thought my MRI was like is interesting. So among the small travel drawings here is my interpretation of my MRI experience,
Looking up at the curved tube structure above my body I asked the technician is the radiation coming from that ceiling device? His answer, “No radiation is coming from you. Are you seeing any babies in the next 6 hours? If so don’t hold them.”
Before the scan I was injected with a radiopharmaceutical, then told to rest in a chair in a little room for a half an hour while the material traveled through my body. I asked if I could draw or read and he said, no, we don’t want the material to travel to your active brain. The following is an interesting definition of a PET scan. I’ve heard cancer eats sugar. Here, the information is stated again.
PET is used in conjunction with compounds that closely resemble a natural substance used by the body, such as a simple sugar (e.g. glucose), labeled with a radioactive atom and injected into the patient. These compounds (radionuclides or radiopharmaceuticals) emit particles called positrons. As positrons emitted from the radionuclides encounter electrons in the body, they produce high-energy photons (gamma rays) that can be recorded as a signal by detectors surrounding the body. The radionuclides move through the body and accumulate in the organs targeted for examination. A computer collects the distribution of radioactivity and reassembles them into actual images.
By further defining a lesion seen on other imaging modalities, PET may enhance assessment of tumors exceedingly well. This is because of its operating principle. The radiolabeled sugars injected into the patient will be used by all body cells, but more sugar will be used by cells that have an increased metabolism. Cancer cells are highly metabolic, meaning that they use more sugar than healthy nearby cells, and they are easily seen on the PET scan. PET images thus show the chemical functioning of an organ or tissue, unlike xray, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging, which show only body structure.