How I spent my summer vacation

As many of you know I have experienced quite the bout with Multiple Myeloma.  I have come a long way in the past two years from being bedridden,unable to walk unassisted and in a nursing home, to being able to walk for miles with just a cane and doing some of the things that I used to do when I was able bodied.

One of the great joys in my life has always been oil painting.  I have had paintings in statewide art shows, in the Duluth Depot Museum and in several other states and countries.

To help strengthen my back, after having the cancer make my spine so brittle that every thoracic and lumbar vertebra developed a compression fracture, I have made an effort to keep moving and stretching by doing artwork.  First it was watercolors, and lots of paintings of roosters.  Then, acrylics.  Always seated and elbows on the table for support. Finally, this summer I have been strong enough that for short periods of time I can stand behind an easel and use long handled brushes to gain perspective and paint in oils.

What did I paint?

I painted anger in a painting called, “Wind in the Pasture.”  Anger is a huge part of being a cancer victim and for me this is the second time.  I am angry that I have to learn to live with this cancer diagnosis, the unfairness that it happened to me, that I cannot work because I am disabled from my spine injuries, that I have been stuck in a house for almost two years and that my relationships with my family have changed.  I am angry that I have a huge loss of control and that all of my former professional and many personal goals are no longer possible. Yes, I painted anger.

I also painted peace.  The peace that is found in my faith.  I have felt peace in pain, solitude and yes, even in the hospital receiving chemo and a stem cell transplant.  God has always been with me and I have felt his close presence and hand on my shoulder when I just could not go on.  Yes, he carried me through those times and there was a peace that really does pass all understanding.  There is a God and he is loving.  The painting of peace is called, “Moonlight Peace.”

After two years of living minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day.  I now, again, can look forward to a future.  I am in remission and doing well.  My future is a painting of a sunrise in the west and is called, “Wyoming Retirement.”  I love painting still deep translucent waters and clouds.

The last painting that I have completed this summer was sort of a dare.  I have a bad habit of accepting challenges just to see if I can succeed.  My cousin challenged me to paint blooming cactus and a Gambel’s quail.   This might sound like an odd topic for a Minnesota girl, but I spent my childhood winters for over decade in Tucson, Arizona. My dad is a retired disabled veteran and to escape the cold, which made his disability worse, we would farm in Minnesota in the summer and go to Tucson in the winter.  I transferred in and out of schools twice a year from fourth grade through high school graduation.  My class in Grove City High School was about 32 kids all white.  My class at Cholla High School in Tucson was in the hundreds and less than 10 percent white.  While both worlds were very different.  I loved both places.

Even with cancer life moves on and his morning I started my next painting which will be a still life.  I need to practice some brush strokes as my hands still are not as strong as I’d like them to be and I have always wanted to learn how to paint flowers.  Just saying….

Wind in the pasture

Wind in the Pasture

moonlight

Moonlight Peace

Wyoming retirement

Wyoming Retirement

cactus and quail oil

Charlie the Gambel’s Quail

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