Monday 19 October 2015

Lego Marvel Superheroes sky done

This was fun! I like painting skies; there are so many shades and colours, even when it's just blue sky and a few clouds. Add storms moving in, and the colours are amazing!

Here's where I'm up to:

Monday 28 September 2015

Lego background update

As all smaller paintings do, this is taking a while - I'm painting for about an hour each mornings, before it gets too hot, but the size means I'm focusing on the details more - there are no large, sweeping brushstroke a, I'm using my miniature brushes, instead.

I like this :)

Here's where I'm up to:

Sunday 27 September 2015

Lego Marvel Superheroes background started

LPD went for a run this morning, so I painted. He ran to Kos town and back - 16km, I started the background to Radiation's painting. 

Here it is:

Thursday 24 September 2015

Painting again!!! :)

Well, I've decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, and get back on with life again. My left arm isn't fixable, but life, with a few adaptations, must go on.

I'm on holiday for a week in Kos, and have brought a couple of paintings to do while I'm here. It feels so good to pick up a pencil to draw, and I'll be painting tomorrow.

So what am I doing? It's a Lego Marvel Superheros for Radiation:

This is a photo of the image I'm working on - I only have my iPad with me, so photo quality won't be great, I'm sorry!

Here's the pencil outline:

I'll start painting in in the morning - I don't like painting in artificial light, as colours look different, and what I think is a colour match turns out to be anything but!

It feels good :)

Wednesday 2 September 2015

A brief update

Well, long time, no post!

I've had a challenging few months, cumulating in a difficult to accept, but very easy to make decision.

TL;DR: my left arm is packing up, I'm retiring.

The longer version:
For the past year or so, I've been having problems with my left shoulder, arm and hand, and in that easily done way, I've ignored it. In case you don't know, as well as having ME, I also have Poland's Syndrome, a congenital defect of the upper left quarter of my body, which means I have some missing muscles, bones and nerves. Thankfully, my heart and left lung aren't affected. I have slight scoliosis, a short arm and webbed 1" long fingers that don't move much. I've been getting pins and needles, been dropping my fork, and pain in my shoulder. I ignored it. The pain got worse until it started impacting my ability to drive, sleep and function. After X-rays, MRIs, nerve and muscle function tests, I've been told it's not fixable, take more drugs.

This has been quite hard to deal with - not the pain, but the losing function. It impacts my ability to drive, which then restricts what I can do, as I can't walk far. If I do drive, I hurt, so I have to take stupid meds, which then mean I can't drive, so I can't go out. 

I've been off work since the middle of April, and am now being medically retired, as I'm not safe to be at work on the drugs, and can't concentrate because of the pain if I don't take the drugs. My balance is affected, too, so I'm falling over a bit more.

My pension will be about half my salary, and because my condition has changed, I will receive more disability benefits. It will still be less than I currently earn, which will be a challenge in itself.

I've never lived to work, but my arm deciding to pack up on me has been very difficult to deal with. One consequence has been the loss of some things I enjoy - I can't play my guitar any more, as it hurts my left shoulder - I play left handed, have an Ibanez jumbo acoustic. It's now gathering dust. Sewing is a challenge, too - I make bridalwear as another hobby, but sewing hurts my left arm.

I'd stopped painting - mainly because I was zonked on the pain meds, but also because I felt rubbish.

I'm slowly coming out of the funk, and accepting what I can't change. I'm also starting to paint again, which actually helps with how I feel. I guess I'll just have to learn a new way of doing things, and try not to let it get to me. Next week I'll be starting the next painting, for Radiation. We've already had a conversation about my radio silence, so we're good.

I'm also going to continue my Doorways paintings; I'll be posting about them as well.

Also, commissions gratefully received!!

Thursday 14 May 2015

Updated Oxfam painting list

I thought I should update the painting list - this is the list where you donate a minimum of £50/$75 to Oxfam in exchange for a painting from me. You also meet my materials and postage costs.

Here's the list:  

Junpei: don't know yet

Radiation: Link or My Little Pony (for his daughter)


Custom Special



1ddqd - very happy to roll the painting up into a tube!!

I contact you when it's your turn, and I've just messaged Junpei to see what they would like me to paint. While I wait to hear from them, I'll carry on with a couple of side projects, and post updates of them, as well.

If you'd like to be added to the list, just let me know.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

It's finished!!!

Yes, I've finally finished my Secret Santee's painting. ME doesn't half get in the way of painting, you know. 

Here's the whole thing:

And here's a couple of close-ups:

This was fun to paint!

I'm heading to my queue to contact the next person on the list to find out what I'll be painting next :)

It's that time of year again!

Yes, that's right, its International ME day.

For those of you who check out canvas and paints regularly, you'll have been expecting a post today, as you already know I have ME. For those of you who don't, here goes:

On August 17th 2005 I was half way through a 6 day cycling round North Wales holiday with my husband. This was about a month after having completed the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride in my fastest ever time of 5 hours 50 minutes - it is a 57 mile ride on road between the two places, covering some beautiful, hilly country roads.

We'd arrived in North Wales on the Sunday afternoon after dropping our then foster children back home to their grandparents - they lived with them and came to us for regular weekend breaks, to both support the children and their grandparents.

On the first day we went for a short ride, only doing 11 miles. On the second day, we did about the same, then we gradually increased it so that on the Wednesday we cycled 30 miles, and we were planning to do the same on the Thursday. When I woke up, I thought I was developing a cold, but so what? We went out anyway. We headed to Llandudno, a pretty Victorian town about 15 miles from where we were staying, but as the ride progressed, I started to feel lousy. We stopped at a chemist so I could buy some cold remedy, but I gradually started to feel worse and worse.

Mistake no. 1 was not asking Kev to cycle back for the car while I rested. Mistake no. 2 was me continuing to navigate. We got lost, and almost ended up on the A55 - a very, very busy dual carriageway that's not safe for bikes. The planned 30 mile ride got longer and longer as I tried to work out a route back, and I felt sicker and sicker. Eventually, we managed to find our way back to where we were staying; by then I was feeling pretty dreadful - the cold I thought I was developing felt much more like the 'flu.

I never recovered. I've not been back on my bike since; 10 years later it is gathering dust and cobwebs in my shed. It's hard to describe exactly what it is like, as how I feel can vary so much. The Spoon Theory sums it up pretty well, though.

I've learnt to manage this nasty illness, most of the time fairly successfully, sometimes not. I have relapses where I can barely walk for days, can't think clearly, can't even look after myself.  I rely on my family and friends for help, as there's so much I now can't do. We've moved to a bungalow as walking up stairs exhausts me and causes significant pain.

The hardest thing to cope with is the feeling of grief for what I've lost - the physical strength and capacity that I used to take for granted; being able to think coherently; having a memory that functioned. It took a while, and a CBT course to help me manage the negative emotions I had because of how little I can now do.

One of the best things has been painting - not only does it give me something so positive to do, that doesn't take up too much energy, but it is something very productive, that people appreciate, and raises money for Oxfam and Child's Play.

Another has been learning about the blessing of enabling people to help me - even complete strangers when I'm struggling in a shop - only last Saturday I was trying to do the food shopping, but I was in too much pain to bend down to pick up a box of eggs. My choice was either do without, or swallow my silly false pride and ask for help. Or, as I prefer to look at it, to give someone the gift of feeling good about themselves for helping someone. I asked another customer to help me by picking up a box of eggs for me. She did, I thanked her and she went away feeling good about herself because she had helped someone out.

I have to remember that it is a blessing to help another person, no matter how small that help is - even a bad man wouldn't give a child a stone if they were hungry.

I'm hoping to be part of the UK Rituximab trial at some point; that may lead to a cure for ME. I'll still paint, though.

For more information about ME, click here.

To donate to Oxfam, click here.

Friday 1 May 2015

Just the outlining left to do!

As the title suggests, I'm almost finished! His has been a fun painting to do :)

Outlining next, then it's done!

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Almost finished!

I've been busy painting this morning, and have almost finished the painting. I've just got to add the glow around MegaMan, then the flash of light at the top of his hand, then I'll be ready to do the outlining :)

Here it is:

Yes, still no camera! If anyone feels like donating one, let me know!!

I should have this finished by Friday, then I'll be posting it off to its very patient owner!

Monday 27 April 2015

Link started

Here's some more done - I've started Link and I'll be painting the rest of Mario next, then Megaman. 

This is a fun picture to paint :)

I know, I'm still using my iPad, haven't found the camera yet!

Live Below The Line

No, this isn't a picture of the painting I'm doing, I'm posting to let you know about something I do each year with my family.

We are raising money for Oxfam - so relevant right now with what has happened in Nepal and India.

The idea is to live on £1 a day for 5 days, donating what you would have spent on food to charity (for me, Oxfam), donating extra, and encouraging others to do the same.

Here's where you can donate:

So, why are we doing it?

Many, many people in this world don't have enough to eat. We do. Even when we were very poor, we had just about enough to eat, and we always had clean, fresh, cold drinking water. So many people don't. Even if reading this makes one more person think about their neighbour (whether that's the person next door, the person begging at the ATM, the person who has just lost everything in Nepal) and they then do something good, its worth it.

We will be hungry this week. We will have a very restricted diet, with no fruit, as I couldn't afford to buy the fruit after I'd bought the veggies and carbs. Kev will find it harder than me, as he needs more calories than I do. We will go to bed hungry. We won't have the foods we normally do.

But, we have a choice. If we can't do it, we can go out and buy some food, or we can raid the cupboards or freezer for something. As one friend said; we have a freezer, we have cupboards, a fridge, a cooker. We don't have to worry about keeping food fresh.

There was a time in our lives when we were poor - I remember scouring the shelves in the supermarket for reduced items to try to stretch my budget. I remember the shame of having to take stuff back at the checkout as I had overspent and didn't have enough in my purse to pay for the food I'd bought for my children. I remember not paying the gas bill so I could buy shoes for my children. That's a long time ago, though, and this will be a good discipline.

Here's our week's food:

Here's half the potatoes, carrots and onions chopped to make soup for the week:

Here's the split peas soaking to add to the veggies for soup:

Here's the finished soup. I'll be bagging and freezing it into individual portions for the week when it has cooled down:

I've never asked this before; I'd really appreciate it if anyone would repost/tweet/FB/whatever the link to this page, so that as many people as possible can read about what we're doing. Thank you.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Pikachu, Kirby, Donkey Kong and Mario started.

I'm off work again, boring problems with my left shoulder, arm and hand, and have been started on Gabapentin by my GP. 

I can't drive as I'm a bit dopey, but I can paint. I've had fun this afternoon painting more characters. It looks a bit odd still, as I'm not doing the outlining until last - learnt the hard way by having colours bleed into the black. 

The last part I'll paint will be all the black bits, then I'll do the outlining. 

Here's where I'm up to:

Yes, I'm still using my iPad :( We've unpacked all our boxes from the house move, but there's still a few things missing, one of which is my camera. Hopefully it's been put in a cupboard somewhere!

Monday 30 March 2015

Bowser complete.

I've had the day off work today, and what better way to spend it than painting?

I've finished Bowser now, apart from the outlining, which I'll do all in one go once I've finished the painting. 

I still can't find my camera - I don't think it went into storage, but who knows! If anyone would like to donate one ...

Here's the whole painting: 

And here's a closeup:

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Bowser started

I've painted for quite a while today, concentrating on Bowser. I've got most of the purples done, but need to stop to make dinner!

I'll carry on tomorrow. 

Secret Santa background redone.

I'm happier with this now, so I'm going to start Bowser next. Hopefully I'll find my camera soon - I've found my SD card reader, so that's a start. Until then, I'm still using my iPad. 

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Secret Santa background started

I have a very understanding Santee.
I've been working on the background to his painting. I need to lighten the top, but I'm stopping for lunch now. 
I'll do some more later. 

Saturday 7 March 2015

Secret Santa painting

You may well guess from the lack of posts that I've been ill. Since Christmas. I've also moved house, 6 days before Christmas. 

I've finally recovered and am back at work and now painting, and the first thing I need to do is my Secret Santa's painting. Thankfully, he's understanding, and has been happy to wait. 

This is what I'm painting:

And here's the pencil outline: 

Yes, I know it's a little blurred, but I have yet to discover my camera, so am using my iPad, before anyone complains!

Friday 16 January 2015

ME research update

It's been a while since I posted anything- a combination of a very protracted house move, making 5 bridesmaid dresses and being ill. The house move triggered an ME flare up (no surprise there) and then I've had a chest infection that hasn't wanted to go. 

I've also been down to London to take part in Stage 1 of a research trial, something that has given me hope of possible recovery for the first time since I developed ME, 9 and a half years ago.

This trial is being carried out at UCL hospital, and has been funded by donations. Stage 1 is attempting to identify if there are problems with people's B natural killer Cells in our blood, and involved a series of questionnaires then some blood samples. My friend Mike came, to take notes and generally support me; he ended up being a healthy control, and also donated blood samples for testing!

The questionnaires were fairly straight forward - about the onset and progression of ME, detailed stuff about symptoms, then questions about childhood illnesses. They were very interested when I said I'd had chicken pox 3 times - once age 7 badly, mildly age 22 and again badly in my early 40s. They told me that chicken pox is in the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) group of viruses, that feature in ME.
I had no idea about this at all. They talked about Glandular Fever as well, and the possible links to ME.

What's next? Mine and Mikes blood will be tested, the B cells looked at, other stuff looked at and compared to lots of other people's blood. The team at UCL will then produce a report with what they've learnt. I'll get a copy of it. 

Right now, the Rituximab trial is on hold, as there's a larger trial, with 200 people taking part happening in Norway, and so Dr Berkovitz wants to wait to see the results of that trial before starting the UK trial - he's said he wants to see exactly what happens to the Norwegian trial people before using a powerful chemotherapy drug on UK people. 

Watch this space for more news as I get it!