A Feather On The Beach

An Artist's Journal


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Still Not Drawing . . .

If you read my previous post you’ll know that I haven’t been able to draw for the past few weeks because of tendonitis, trigger thumb, and a strained ligament in my right hand.  It’s been tough, really tough, not to be able to just sit down and sketch something when I feel like it.  So I thought tonight I’d just talk about some of my new pencils, etc. and what I’ve learned about a better way to draw when I am able to get back at it.

My physical therapist told me that I need to change my routine a bit and that she will be giving me instructions on exercises for both before and after I work with my hands.  That will be after therapy.  In the mean time I am having three Iontophoresisc treatments a week as pictured below.  It is a way of introducing medication to my inflamed tendon without injections.

My therapist told me that I will need to either get larger pens and pencils or add these soft grips to the ones I am using in order to take some strain off my fingers.

Pencil grip

Mechanical pencils

I already had some larger barrel mechanical pencils that I enjoy using so they should work well. My Sakura Sumo Grip is my favorite.  I am partial to regular wood pencils when doing graphite drawings.  However, I always have my mechanical ones in my case  especially when traveling with no pencil sharpener.  Its also nice to be able to switch leads in them.  Pictured above are a few of my 2B leadsin different sizes.

Fountain pen and ink

My first love love is pen and ink!  I don’t know if I will be able to improve the grip of this pen, but I will not stop using it.  I don’t do much drawing with this particular one but I do sketch with it on occasion.  I use Sakura Microns, Copic drawing pens, and Staedtlers mostly for drawing.

I absolutely love my fountain pen for writing letters and journaling, though! This beautiful turquoise “Peacock” ink by Pilot is my favorite color.  (My favorite color for ink and everything else really.)  I have had several fountain pens over the years, but I always come back to my Lamy.  It is often called the beginner’s fountain pen, it’s the least expensive at $35, but it has the fine nib and I so enjoy writing with it.  This model, the Vista, is clear so I can easily see when I need to refill it.

The three pencils pictured here are Staedtler Rally that I got last week.  I love how smooth and dark they write for an HB yet they don’t smear like a softer lead.  I look forward to using them soon.

Staedtler Rally pencils

So that’s what I’ve been up to since I can’t draw…looking at and photographing pencils and pens!

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What do you do when you can’t do what you do?

Thumb splint

In case you didn’t know, or you are new here, I am an artist and when I do drawings for clients some of them have deadlines so that means drawing, sometimes but not often, when I’m not particularly inspired in order to get it done on time.  I am always inspired by something, though, and I’m either doing little sketches, full drawings, or at least writing about it in my journal most everyday.  And I love to write hand-written letters to friends as well, so I’m never without pen and paper close by.

So a couple of months ago I began having pain in my right wrist and into my thumb off and on mainly when I would lift something heavy with that hand but also at night after drawing all day.  As time went on I would occasionally wake up with my thumb joint locked.  It would snap painfully when I’d try bend it until it loosened up, be sore for a few minutes and then feel okay.  So I did some reading about “trigger finger” or “trigger thumb” and tried not to lift anything or strain my thumb. Otherwise, I continued doing everything else as usual including typing, writing, drawing and drawing some more.

During November and December I draw a lot more than usual but I had no idea that I was over-working my right thumb.  Apparently I was.  I use mainly graphite, color pencil and pen & ink in my work so that means holding these small objects for a long time at one sitting.  I also have discovered that I am holding them too tightly as well as too long.

I also have discovered after questions from my doctor and physical therapist that I also tend to hold several other pens that I am not drawing with in my left hand as I work.  I know, how did I just discover that fact? I have no idea.  I’d just never paid any attention to it until they asked about why I had such little range of motion in my left pinky finger.

Unfortunately, I didn’t begin resting my hand nearly soon enough, so now I have to rest it all the time, have anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy and wear a splint.  (In case you wonder how I am typing this its very slowly and not using my thumb for the space bar.)

Now to the reason for this little post . . . I don’t know what to do when I can’t write or draw.  I used to think it was bad when I didn’t want to work on a particular piece but now that I can’t work on anything worse. Like, “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone,” kind of thing. I have been reading more and taking a few more photos than usual to help with creative withdrawal but that’s it and its not working.

I listen to music a lot but I’m usually doing something else at the same time so I have been spending a little more time just sitting quietly and really listening.  It’s something that I always have done but not nearly enough lately.  It makes me feel better but there’s still this emptiness.  I need to put pen or pencil on paper!

I have a feeling that there’s a reason for this in some way.  Maybe for me to learn something new like not to over do it even if there are deadlines.  But for now I must ask those of you who read this, what do you do when you can’t do what you do?