Some people suffer for their art. There have been occasions when I’ve been one of them.
I suffer from arthritis and have done so for almost 2 decades, but it’s only really concerned me over the past 6 years. I had hoped that moving to warmer climates on the Australian Mainland 5 years ago would be of benefit, but alas, it wasn’t. Now I’m back in Tasmania and little has seemed to have changed. The past few years have been particularly challenging. There have been days when I could not even physically hold a pencil. Having arthritis in both hands has stifled the idea of changing to left-handed drawing.
How am I treating this condition? I have the prescribed gloves, take specific medication when required and use arthritis cream for my hands when things are bad. The best way to deal with this condition is to stop drawing altogether. I have entertained the idea of giving up drawing but I’ve recently benefitted from extended periods away from my easel and I’ve taken up digital painting, something that has (as yet) not resulted in any pain in my hands.
Now that I’m 70, my previous 5 decades of producing art has finally caught up with me. Being older than when I first noticed the signs of oncoming arthritis, I’ve had the sense to ‘pace’ myself in my daily activities. Anything physical such as gardening is treated with respect. When my hands get too sore, I stop. Well, usually!
My drawing style is rather physical at times and that has over the years, put a good deal of pressure on my right hand. Unfortunately, I lost my left index finger in a shooting accident when I was 18. My left thumb often reminds me of this with bouts of inflammation!
‘Rest’ is often prescribed in such situations and it works, but it’s hard when you want to get back into the studio or the garden! I know there are thousands of people like me across Australia, many of whom suffer way more pain and discomfort than I do. I’m doing my best to avoid as little deterioration in my condition as possible.
After a 4 week break from drawing I picked up my pencils and produced my first drawing for the year. Holding round shaped pencils was difficult, but I found that the hexagonal barrels of my Supracolor Soft pencils much more comfortable to work with. I took about a week to complete the drawing, but I made sure that I had plenty of breaks to rest my hands.
I consider Supracolors the best all-round pencil on the market. They have the greatest coverage, are lightfast, water soluble and have a range of 120 colours (150, if you count the 30th anniversary tin). They are truly a delightful pencil to work with.
Time will tell if my approach to drawing will work.
Meantime, I still intend to keep my arsenal of coloured pencils.