Disabilities

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Did you feel like hibernating this week? I know I did.

It’s cold and rainy here, so even during our few daylight hours it is often dark.
I was happy to have my walk every morning after dropping my daughter off at school. There’s this thing Pete Seeger said about the best cure for tiredness being to get outside and get your blood pumping. I totally agree, but this week, even after my walk, I still felt that slowness.

When that happens I use music and video to keep me company and keep me going. It has to be just right, so it doesn’t draw me in and make me stop working.

I went back to the PBS documentaries this week and found a great one on this guy:

That’s Mr. Einstein.

I knew he had trouble in school, but I didn’t realize he had a speech delay severe enough that his parents called in a specialist for help. Apparently he didn’t speak until he was 4.

What was interesting was the connection they made between that and his visual thought experiments that led him to come up with the theory of relativity, among other things; basically that the delay in speech was part of his being a very visual learner and thinker.

So his “delay” may have led to his genius, or at least been an organic part of what made his brain able to grasp these concepts visually.

I am no Einstein, but part of why I found this interesting is because of my own tremor (always shaky hands) and the fact that part of what inspired my current new work was realizing that if I engage the larger muscle groups of my back and shoulder, I don’t shake nearly as much.

Shaking is okay, and I’ve learned to work with it, but I’ve really enjoyed the discovery of this new way of working, a discovery brought to me by my “disability.”

Here’s a new one starting.

Did you notice something about the paint on the table?

I took what is a big leap for me and started doing this under painting in acrylic. I love taking an old rule (completely created by me) and breaking it, to shake the snow globe a little. I have had a pretty strong (okay, crazily strong) prejudice against acrylic, and the New Year seemed like a perfect time to let it go.

And of course, it has been so much fun!

I can’t wait to do more layers. My plan is to put oil on top, as the final layers, and I look forward to seeing how they work together.

I was doing these for two other reasons: because the last thing I want to do on a dark, rainy day is hours of boring work in Illustrator or Photoshop (and that’s what’s next for my completed panels, making the silhouettes for them), and because I have had this corner of panels that felt very blocked. These had a first attempt at my Wood & Water series on them, from before I realized they needed to be letterpress prints, and so these old, abandoned panels had become a kind of forgotten altar to my own misdirection.

Not what I need in my work space.

So now they are transformed into a rule-breaking testament to finding directions out.

This week, here’s to finding the abilities in your disabilities, whatever they may be! And here’s to stepping outside of a long-held routine, breaking self-created rules and breathing that fresh air for a while.

Finally, if all else fails, you can always make eyeball cookies!

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