Forced growth

After thumb surgery

After thumb surgery

Lemon and Limes

Lemon and Limes

Remember the Thumb Bummer fall I took in the Canadian Rockies? It turns out I did significant damage to the nerves and ligaments in the thumb of my dominant hand.  So, one of the results was painting for several months with my left—non-dominant—hand. My first “lefty” painting with large brushes felt as if I was back in art school!

Though this was only a short-term inconvenience for me,  I developed a lot of respect for artists who deal with disabilities in their everyday lives.  Not only was I forced to use a hand with less muscle control, I also found that I had to stand and hold brushes differently just to see the canvas. Thank goodness for a good tube squeezer, or I don’t think I’d ever have been able to get paint out!

My first piece was a simple arrangement of lemons and limes. Color and value became the most important aspects of this work as I taught myself a new way to paint.

Matanuska Valley

Matanuska Valley

Take a Bite

Take a Bite

Next, thanks to encouragement from artist Ruth Ann Sturgill,  I tried a palette knife painting with my left hand, and the results were pretty juicy. I also managed a few plein air pieces, one with fellow OPAS members on a very cold but sunny December day.  Since color and value became my focus, I then tried a large 40 x 30″ technique mixte still life, using multiple layers of glaze to create shape and form.

I am happy to report that my cast is off! Although I continue with physical therapy exercises to regain some flexibility and strength, I am now back to painting with my right hand, even if slightly slower and still a little painfully. Yea!!!

It’ll be interesting to see how the looseness of left-handed painting continues to impact my painting style as my right hand regains it’s strength.

Leave a comment