Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Starting to Paint

I've painted yesterday and today. Noticed that there is a difference if music isn't playing. I can paint longer when there is dead silence. I assume that the schizophrenia reacts to the stimuli of the music, and not having music doesn't inflame symptoms of my illness. If I paint and listen to music I'm taxing myself more than simply painting alone. Eventually the hours of work gets to me, and I'm exhausted, but I'd rather be exhausted later than sooner.

Its a real pleasure to paint. And I'm excited to see the design that was just pencil sketched come to life with color and shading. While I paint Cherry Blossom sleeps. For me, it couldn't get better than that.

Cherry is scared of cars. So I'm trying to get her around as many cars as possible. I didn't know what to do with her fear so I emailed the breeder. The breeder said to take her on LOTS of car rides and to have fun when we get wherever we are going. Of course the number one car that Cherry was afraid of was our own. At times we had to pick her up to get her to pass by it - she so struggled to go in the opposite direction. I feared that forcing her to face her fear would traumatize and scar her, that maybe with age she would grow out of the fear. But the breeder seemed to suggest that having more experience with her fear while she was young and impressionable, rather than less, would help to socialize her. So we take her when we can to places in the car. And just this morning I took her to a park (across the street from us) which she particularly fears. It's the fact that the park sidewalk runs along the side of the road. We don't have a lot of traffic but we have some. Each car freaks Cherry out. But I'm determined to take her to this stretch of sidewalk every day. That should help with her little fear. Problem with today's walk by the park was that it was just before breakfast, and the experience was so upsetting that Cherry lost her appetite and was barely interested in eating. She's a growing girl and really needs her three big meals a day. So the walk by the park has to be between feedings. Cherry's appetite is affected by her emotions. Sensitive girl.

And I felt like an idiot today too but I went up to my neighbor's car while it was idling and the owner was brushing snow off of it, patted the hood, and said to it, "good car". This too is advice from the breeder, to walk up to the things that scare Cherry (fire hydrant, garbage bag, cars, and garbage cans) and talk to them really friendly and then simply move on. I guess the dog takes clues from your behavior.

Last Friday night was a social night. I went to a woman's apartment because she has a Chocolate Labrador, just over a year old. In doggie time this animal still has a lot of puppy energy. I wanted my puppy to play with the older dog. All that Cherry had done so far was bark at other dogs and this mightily concerned me. I don't want to be walking Cherry down the street and have her go nuts simply passing another dog on the sidewalk. She needs to be comfortable with humans and canines. Part of the reason they make it illegal to sell a dog before it is 8 weeks old in New Hampshire and Connecticut (don't know about Vermont) is that the doggies are spending important time bonding with one another.

My therapist picked up a year old dog from the humane society that had a nasty habit of attacking other dogs while he was walking her. He said that his whole body tensed, unhappily, whenever they were outside and encountered another dog on a leash. His dog would be straining at the end of his leash and looking vicious. But while he was in therapy, he would bring his dog in to see his patients, and his dog would respond empathically to people in pain or crying by putting her head in their lap while they were most upset. For that reason, my therapist was wild about the animal and how she helped him in his practice. But from what he told me, given her unknown puppyhood, something went very wrong with animal socialization and I suspect she was separated too early from her mother and siblings. I want Cherry to have the joy of playing with other dogs, just like I want strangers to have the joy of patting her head and maybe getting a friendly lick from her.

All I had to do was sit back and watch the Chocolate Lab and Cherry do their thing. They played furiously. The Lab was so excited it drooled, and Cherry's head was one tiny, wet furry skull. The Lab towered over Cherry and way, way, outmassed her. I was worried about an eye getting poked out or an ear torn because Cherry was often on the ground getting rolled over by the bigger dog. Cherry occasionally was intimidated, and would huddle against my legs for protection, and then something in her would rally, and she would leap and snap at the old dog and run along side her. Cherry's got guts. Yes, a lot of things may scare her, but when it comes to people and other dogs she does fine, no fear. I'm hoping for another play date this Friday too. I'll sweeten the deal for the woman and offer her fresh bagels and lox cream cheese, one of her favorite foods. I figure the two of us can eat dinner while we watch the furry monster's play. What is good for my dog is good for her dog too. And she lives on disability, so I doubt she'll turn down a free meal.

It really is a milestone that I have the presence of mind to paint. For a while with Cherry her needs and behavior required me to constantly have eyes on her, and this wearied me greatly. And I think I made more stress for myself by also worrying about Cherry a lot. I loved her with a love that consumed me. She still is new and precious and fragile, but we kinda fit together better. I don't feel the need to know at all minutes exactly where she is and what she is doing. But my oh my, how I love to look into her eyes. And she stares right back at me with all the self possession and determination I could ever wish for. A creature with a soul all of its own.

I'm starting to think about the gallery that has expressed interest in showing my artwork. I'm starting to think about creating a show. The owner of the gallery wants my work in groups, with a grouping of three being the smallest. I do prejudge my work even when it is just in pencil form - I ask is it good enough for the gallery? Too bad that I do that. It dissuades me from experimentation, because if I stray from a style that works, the gallery might not show what is too new and different. I've also got another little problem. I'm afraid to sell the really good pieces, I want to keep them on display in my home. I know the best remedy is to just keep producing and eventually you'll have so much that you don't know what to do with them and run out of room for hanging them.

Yes, I'm ready and eager to paint everyday. Tomorrow I have a therapy appointment and then in the evening peer support group, so I can't waste energy on painting, I have to conserve myself for my obligations. That's part of the schizophrenic illness too; picking what you will do for the day because you are limited in what you can do. For instance, I'll watch t.v. before my therapy appointment because this is mindless activity and it will keep me fresh for the other more draining activity of talking with my therapist. The free hours are there to paint, there is distance between when I wake and when I have to visit the therapist, but I'll keep myself calm, cool, collected, and unchallenged. Creativity is a challenge, there are shapes and colors to be decided upon, hundreds of little choices to make when you have a brush in your hand, and while I want to paint I won't. I've said to my therapist before "you get the best of me" and this is true. I won't waste the best of me painting.

However, the day after tomorrow is completely free, and happily I will look forward to exhausting myself on that day painting.

1 comment:

  1. As always, I greatly enjoy reading about your life. Thank you. And I am happy to hear that you are progressing in both training dear Cherry and bonding with her and in getting some painting done. I hope you are having a productive day painting today. Do put on a show at that gallery. Wonderful! All I know is that despite your illness, you have what it takes to do excellent work and to share it with others. And keep taking pictures of your studies and putting them on your blog because I get inspiration from you.

    Love Kate : )


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