Saturday, April 23, 2016

Thursday post on Saturday?

Ok, so I missed posting on my target date again this week but I have a good excuse; sort of. I had to take day to the eye surgeon to have his second eye fixed for cataracts. And by the time we got home I was not in the mood to sit anymore. I wanted to paint. I am kind of obsessed with painting right now. It has really been a good thing to have in my life right now. A few weeks ago my eldest sister was diagnosed with primary peritoneal cancer. It was such a shock, one that I still feel, though it is sinking in. I am still having terrible anxiety; heart pounding and feeling out of breath whenever I think about Fran. Painting has been a way for me to escape from that awful reality. The fact that they are selling on Ebay gives me a boost too, knowing that they will be enjoyed by others and not just sit around collecting dust here. We don't need more dust collectors here that is for sure.

Here are this week's paintings. I started a series on water.

I also did two more paintings for my Abandoned series.

I also had a nice distraction from my worry over Fran by going to the opening for the Monson Arts Council art show "Deep". I had submitted three pieces to this show and was pleased that two of the pieces were accepted, especially since I learned that they accepted only about a third of the number submitted. It is a popular show with good prizes. The piece that did not get in was one that I knew was a long shot but that I felt compelled to make. When pondering the theme of "Deep" and what it meant to me I thought about how the deepest thing I know is depression and what that would look like as an image. This is what I came up with; Deep Depression: Beyond Blue.

Here are the pieces that were accepted; first a pencil drawing....

Deeply Content

And a felt wall hanging.

What Lies Beneath.

I was pleasantly surprised at the opening of the show to find that my felt piece had won second place for fiber arts! It was such a good day spending time with a friend, looking at art and a receiving a nice check and accolades. I wish my sister could find a way to get a break as easily. I have to remind myself that this is part of self care and that my being miserable over what she is going through benefits no one. So while I do need to grieve and feel the worry it does not help to wallow in it. And when my heart starts to pound and panic is nearing I will do my deep breathing, or go for a walk or draw or paint, and pray.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Thursday post on Friday.

Last week when I finally got myself to start blogging again I decided that if I set a day to blog I would be more likely to follow through. I thought that Thursday would be a good day for it since Dad usually goes to Habitat for Humanity on Thursdays so the house is extra quiet. However, this week I was busy on Thursday, so I am writing on Friday instead. Yesterday I was helping out at the judging for the Academic Artist's Association's yearly show. It was so educational for me to see how the jurors go about choosing which pieces of art will be included in the show and/or receive prizes. The jurors this year were Doug Gillette and Dan Riccio. They made a great team and were really great at sharing their thoughts with those of us who were there as worker bees. And what a hard job they had since there was so much wonderful art there but only so much room for hanging the show so about 30 pieces had to be rejected. I am very happy to say my colored pencil piece of the marbles; "No Longer Lost" was accepted into the show. This is a national show and it is such an honor to be included.


 I have been doing a lot of painting but not much felting lately. I got discouraged with felt this past summer for various reasons and at the same time I was drawn back to more traditional art forms. I had such a strong craving to push paint around that I decided sign up for an oil painting class at the West Hartford Art League with Bill Simpson. I wanted to learn how to a. use oil paint properly since I had never had a class in that subject and b. learn how to do loose, less exact work. I love Bill's aerial paintings and the way that what looks like so much detail of the landscape is really just a glob of paint. I wanted to learn how to put that glob down and leave it there because my tendency was to blend the crap out of it. I found the key for me was to use the palette knife and I am really enjoying it. The class was such a struggle to get through because I was going through a really hard time with my bipolar issues and meds.
Here are the paintings I did in that class in the order that I did them.

Reflections on an icy river.
A corner of the school house studio.

The south end bridge.
Parker River Wildlife Refuge.

I also did a few oil paintings on my own outside of class.

Another one from the Parker River Wildlife Refuge.

Since class ended I have been working on a large canvas; 30x40" I think. 

I realized that I was not painting my big canvas the way I had intended. I was painting it the same way I did a small canvas, there was just more area to cover. I had intended to use big marks. I was advised by Bill to use big brushes and squeeze out a LOT of paint. So I should have used big palette knives if I was going to do another knife painting. One problem I had was the idea of using so much paint all at once. It is so expensive! Trying to get myself to squeeze out a big old blob of paint and make big marks on this big canvas was not happening. At about this time I found The Savvy Painter. Listening to the podcast by Karen Jurick gave me the idea that I could make some money to buy more paint by doing small acrylic painting studies and offering them for sale on Ebay. So last monday I listed my first painting. Here are the paintings I have listed so far.

Abandoned 1 
Abandoned 2

Two Cats

Abandoned 3

One Cat

Water 1


And here is a photo of what I bought with some of my new earnings....more paint! I have another large canvas ready and waiting....

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Bipolar off her meds

 I started writing this post one year ago:

"I have always been open about my mental illness. I decided long ago that being open and sharing my feelings might help others who felt the same but were afraid to share how they felt. I believe that to get rid of the stigma around mental illness those of us who suffer need to show that we are not ashamed. Neither am I proud of my mental illness. (What I am proud of is how I have endured.) I have a disease that is genetic and happens to mainly affect my thoughts and emotions. To me, being bipolar is no different than being diabetic. I am not responsible for having this illness, just how I manage it. There is no cure but there are many things that I can do to make living with it better or worse.
I decided to go off of the mood stabilizing drug; Lamictal back in January of 2015. My reason for doing so was because I was having so much trouble with memory and cognitive function. It was making my life miserable. I had been doing pretty well with my moods for a while and the timing seemed good. In the winter my big problem is depression which is relatively easy to endure compared to mania or mixed states. I had the support of my family to try going without a mood stabilizer; it would be for the first time in 20+ years. I wanted to find out a couple of things. First, how much was the Lamictal doing? None of the drugs we have tried through the years has been really great or ever taken away all of the crazy thoughts or feelings. And they all came with awful side effects. Second, I wanted to know how much of my poor memory and cognitive function was really due to the med, maybe it was just getting older. Well, the results are in.
The good news: Lamictal did do well with controlling my moods. I had no idea how much so until now. I have not been this crazy in a long time....maybe 7 years or so. Yes, I have had some rough times even on it but none of them have lasted this long. If you imagine moods as a roller coaster, good mental health would be a kiddie ride. You have ups and downs but most of them are not extremely high or low and most of the ride is at a manageable level. On Lamictal my moods were more like an old fashioned wooden roller coaster or maybe a first generation coaster that had some speed and a few loops.  I had some pretty bad lows, even down into the tunnel of darkness a few times. Off of Lamictal I am on a brand new loop-de-loop super speed coaster. I have had a really nice ride up to a great height where the view was fantastic and thrilling. This peak hit right when I was at the Felter's Rendezvous in March of 2015. It was a fairly gradual climb up but I could still feel it coming. Spring is always my manic time so it was not surprising or that unusual except in how very high I got. Well what goes up must come down and in this case I am not just going straight down. This is the loopy part of the ride and the speed of the mood changes is amazing. But the biggest difference is in how long this whiplash ride is lasting.
The other good? news is that my memory and cognitive function have vastly improved. I am no longer that dumb blond with the memory of an 86 year old. I can even remember numbers. When I talk about my memory problems everyone chimes in that they have that too but this was extreme and really affecting my quality of life. All of that is so much better now. I can see just how much was due to the medication now.
So where does that leave me? Well the agitation that I always get in the spring has been really bad so the good doctor recommended Risperadone to take the edge off....."

Well, Risperadone was a no go but I don't remember why I stopped it. Then in December of 2015 I stopped taking my antidepressant since a. that can trigger a mania and b. I did not have a prescribing doctor. I gave up on my therapist of 20+ years along with the meds. It was not a good thing to do.
Fast forward to April of 2016. I am seeing a new prescriber and therapist, two for the price of one! and I am on new meds that seem to be working so far and the side effects are tolerable so far. I am planing ahead and getting things done and living instead of just surviving. I want to start blogging again but in shorter more regular posts. Want to come along for the ride? :)