Art Gallery Gauvin

Australian Bush Legends

header photo

From the Studio

artist-author Dorothy Gauvin

Begun in 2000, interrupted by relapses of RA, the work was halted entirely in March 2010. Surgery to replace my right elbow, destroyed by decades of rheumatoid arthritis, resulted in damage to the ulnar nerve. Losing the use of my right hand added to the difficulties of everyday life, because my left hand, despite extensive surgeries, was totally disabled since 2004.

Luckily for me, story-telling was a deep delight for as long as I can recall. Though my left-handed writing remained a scrawl, the keyboard could be used by holding a pair of rubber-tipped pencils in each curled-over 'fist.' So began a new phase of writing, articles for Web publication, a blog to pass on useful tips for fellow artists, and for those dealing with arthritis. I found joy in developing the manuscript for my second novel.

Then, in March of last year, exactly 2years and 2 days after the elbow replacement, sensation returned to parts of my right hand. Against the odds, that ulnar nerve had been healing itself.

Apart from various tools designed by me and built by my partner in his home workshop, I made the effort of painting easier by teaching myself to use a mahl stick. As painters know, this is a long, straight stick tipped by a soft pad at one end. With it, a painter can rest fingers holding the brush and draw lines of any length or add fine details without messing up the already-worked area. Mine is made from a bamboo plant stake tipped with a plug of plastic foam sponge.

It is needed in my case now because the deformed pinky and ring fingers - vital to control of the brush - remain out of action, though far less painful now, I'm glad to add. Just as the painting got into full swing, the RA sprang another surprise. My feet put up too strong a protest against standing more than one hour at a time.

Diagnosis of collapsed arches came as a blow but something I should have expected from the shifting of bones in the metatarsal area over a number of years. At long last, I accepted the sensible suggestions ('orders') of my dear partner, who took me for a test-drive in a motorised chair.  In this 'chariot' I now wheel my way with ease along my accustomed 'flight path'  back and forth from the easel to my ' thinking distance.'

This month, I return to writing more and painting less, as I wait  until the new canvases are dry enough for some special glazes planned for them since the intial concept all those years ago. As well, the paintings need drying time before they can accept the final varnishing. With happiness  beyond the telling, I can ask you to please 'Watch This Space' for images from the new series.

If you are a painter with Arthritis,
check out my DIY tools to help you keep making your art

There's action on a new page showing models and in-progress photos of my paintings at Studio Albums