[image_with_animation image_url=”8666″ alignment=”” animation=”None” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”] A couple days ago I shared “A Very Fancy Painting Tool” a rough but effective fast-made bridge. I received a great comment from Sue Rose, which prompted more thoughts for today: Sue Rose says: March 20, 2018 at 12:36 pm Cool! I have a tool, too. My mother has something called an essential tremor. Her hands are super shaky. It’s hereditary and though I haven’t been diagnosed, my hands are definitely not as steady as they once were. I built a bridge from plexiglass and wood to rest my hand/arm while drawing. I avoid smudging pencil, charcoal, ink, whatever. It’s also perfect for making trace monotypes so as not to lean your hand on the paper. Ruthie V says: March 21, 2018 at 11:00 am Sue, Thank you for sharing this. A surprising number of artists draw and paint with tremors. I have a tremor too, so when it comes up I change what I’m drawing or writing with to something with a little more traction. For instance, ball point pens are replaced with felt tip pens. Smooth surfaces replaced with textured. For paintings, I already have a habit of supporting my long brush strokes by some sort of anchor. Sometimes it’s the other hand, sometimes it’s my pinkie along the edge of the canvas, sometimes I grab a stick and use it like a mahl. Changing the speed helps too, working with the breath. I have had figure drawing sessions where my hand shook too much, and my lines were completely uncontrollable. In those cases I sacrificed what I had wanted, and adapted my style so the wobbles were allowed to play into the drawing. Sometimes I like the final drawings, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m relieved, sometimes I’m frustrated, but I’m always thankful for the time spent drawing. Cheers to the wobblers! [divider line_type=”Full Width Line” line_thickness=”1″ divider_color=”default” custom_height=”30[image_with_animation image_url=”8690″ alignment=”” animation=”None” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”] I think a lot of people don’t realize how many artists work with a variety of physical limitations. Life is full of limitations. You know this. If you’re a person who puts high importance on creative endeavors, you’re likely to find ways to work with or around whatever life throws at you. From the viewer’s perspective, creative solutions to limitations are just part of the style. As a viewer, we can often take these stylistic shifts for granted, appreciating what was made and overlook the adaptations the artist made to get there. Then when we try to make our own artwork, limits to our ideas of perfection can turn to self blame or discouragement. There are, of course, the heroing stories about an artist that paints with their mouths or their feet. There are also more common adaptations that go unnoticed: if I’m shaking, I might use conte instead of ink. I might press harder instead of softer, or slow down. If I’m shaking while I paint I might make my brush strokes shorter, or use more paint. Maybe I overextended my shoulder, so my drawings get smaller for a while, or I draw with the other hand. Sometimes I can’t draw, but I can play the guitar. Sometimes I can’t play the guitar, but I can come up with ideas for fun projects. If I’m tired, if I’m anxious, if I’m not feeling well, it’s all in there. There is an ever shifting stream of challenges, and infinite adaptations that most people don’t think about when I post my drawings. In short, everything and everything effects my artwork all the time. I’m adapting constantly to what I can, and cannot do in the moment. Tremors are just one small part of the everything. It’s very common for people to get discouraged by limitations, but really this is all part of how creativity works. Rarely can we make exactly what we want to, when we want to. We are always adapting to ever-shifting challenges of time, light, mood, space, available materials, and technical/physical/mental abilities. These adaptations are what make artwork interesting, and personal. Advice: Start where you are. Repeat. My personal experiences with how challenges and limitations contribute to who we are as artists is a big part of why I started this school, and it’s how I run my classes, most especially the intermediate classes. This quarter I’m offering painting classes designed to find techniques that help you paint more like you. Finding your own personal style isn’t just about deciding what you like and studying techniques of the “masters”, it’s about figuring out how to effectively work with all the shit that isn’t the way you wanted it to be, and making it your own. Art Classes for Techniques, and Creative Adaptations [divider line_type=”Full Width Line” line_thickness=”1″ divider_color=”default” custom_height=”30[image_with_animation image_url=”8667″ alignment=”” animation=”None” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”] The information below about Goya, Klee, Matisse, and Van Gogh is from https://www.passionatepeople.invacare.eu.com/5-world-famous-artists-disabilities/ Francisco Goya Goya is known as one of the best portrait painters in history. But biographers divide his paintings into two periods- before and after his illness. Experts believe that Goya mainly suffered from neurological problems from syphilis. He experienced headaches, dizziness, hearing loss, visual problems, and even mobility issues in his right arm. To treat the syphilis, Goya used ointments made with mercury- another poisonous substance. And to top it off, many of the paints that he worked with daily contained lead. There were a lot of factors that may have contributed to Goya’s ill health. These health problems led to a period of depression and weight loss- but Goya continued to paint. Eventually, he became deaf, but his world of visual art continued. His earlier paintings were more realistic, but as his illnesses progressed, his art became more dramatic and imaginative. His illness did not limit his abilities; it only transformed them. [image_with_animation image_url=”8668″ alignment=”” animation=”None” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”] Paul Klee Paul Klee was a painter, poet, and philosopher. He created a great number of paintings and sketches of a surreal nature. Although German, his artwork was connected to the Surrealist artists of Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. While still creating a prolific amount of work, Paul Klee started suffering from a mysterious illness in 1935. His symptoms included skin changes and problems with his internal organs. He finally died from his illness in 1940, still undiagnosed. Ten years later, the diagnosis was finally given the name, “scleroderma.” Klee’s disease was rare and complex. It is estimated that the style and themes of 90 of his later works were influenced by his illness. Despite living with an unknown, systemic disease, Klee continued his art for five more years. Near the end of his life, he used his experience to fill his art with spirituality. [image_with_animation image_url=”8669″ alignment=”” animation=”None” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”] Henri Matisse Henri Matisse became a wheelchair user after having surgery for cancer. He did not let his loss of mobility dampen his spirits. Instead, he was reenergized, and called the last 14 years of his life “une seconde vie,” or his second life. Matisse felt that this period as a wheelchair user allowed him to re-think his priorities and free himself to do and say what he wanted. Matisse adapted his artistic methods to suit his life in a wheelchair. He started making artwork out of colored paper shapes. Matisse would cut out the shapes and direct an assistant where to stick the piece on a large piece of paper mounted on the wall. Matisse also used chalk on the end of a stick to sketch out the initial pattern of the picture. [image_with_animation image_url=”8670″ alignment=”” animation=”None” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”] Van Gogh Vincent Van Gogh had temporal lobe epilepsy as well as bipolar disorder. [According to Wiki, Van Gogh suffered from Epilepsy, Bipolar disorder, Borderline personality disorder, Sunstroke, Ménière’s disease, Lead poisoning, Acute intermittent porphyria, Kidney Stones, Syphilis, Gonorrhea…… did I get them all??? Maybe I’ll add that he was poor and rather lonely.] He was born with a brain lesion which may have been aggravated by his use of absinthe. It is believed that his physician, Dr. Gachet, prescribed digitalis to treat his seizures. One common side effect from this medicine is seeing yellow spots. Some historians wonder if this is why Van Gogh seemed to love to use the color yellow in his art. Van Gogh created his artwork at a very quick pace. He would churn out multiple works, then experience a time of depression. This vacillation led to the speculation that he most likely had bipolar disorder. During his manic phase, he was very artistically productive. He was also known to have written over 800 letters! Some of the symptoms Van Gogh experienced may have contributed to his art. For example, it is believed that the appearance of The Starry Night could have been inspired by the real halos of light that Van Gogh may have seen around lit objects due to swelling in his retinas. [image_with_animation image_url=”8682″ alignment=”” animation=”None” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”] Frida Kahlo adapted to spina bifida, polio, and a series of injuries from a bus accident. Her work tended to be small and detailed, made with limited physical movement. [image_with_animation image_url=”8671″ alignment=”” animation=”None” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”] Chuck Close adapted to facial blindness and paralysis. For a period in his career, his work was made from a wheelchair, with the assistance of motors, computers, and physical braces. His style is based on his inability to recognize faces in “normal” circumstances.