Collage ideas

Today I’ve made nine A5 collages, using a variety of gelli printed and stenciled deli, tissue, rice and copier papers. The circles were inspired by Froyle, who I’ve started following on YouTube. I love doing small collage, it’s a great way of testing ideas. The ones that are successful are a good price point for selling.

Here’s a sample of today’s work, plus a shot of the chaos while I was creating; I make a point of cleaning up when I’m finished so I don’t feel overwhelmed by the mess when I next sit down to create.

And more gelli printing

Tony bought me the Klimt inspired masks and stencils designed by Elizabeth St Hilaire from for Christmas. Good shopping Tony! This time I’ve been playing on 6×6 paper, with Reeves paints and Golden metallics. I prepped a heap of dark backgrounds then used layers of mixed colours, and a final layer of metallics. For a few of them I used the one background layering stencil at right angles to itself, and love the grid effect. This is a small sample of about 30 prints I did last night.

I went for a walk!

It’s 9 weeks on Thursday since my second total knee replacement. This morning my best mate took me for a walk to the Manawapou Viaduct on the old Ingahape Road. It’s a paper road no, but still largely sealed, so a relatively even surface. It’s a 2.5km round trip from the rest area at the side of SH3. The hardest part was climbing the fence at the start; the stile is missing one board at the bottom so it’s quite a step up & down for someone with two new knees 😉

The walk’s meant to take 10 minutes to the viaduct – I did it in 15 which is pretty good considering. By the time we got back to the car I was limping slightly, more from my hip than my knee. My hips have had a difficult time adjusting to my significantly change posture.

I often walk 4km in a day, but that’s bits and pieces, not a sustained effort. I’m so pleased I was able to do this – after 9 years of using mobility aids it feels like a huge achievement. Thanks for helping me accomplish it Sandra; you’ve got a new (sometimes) walking companion!

And that’s 2021 almost over

Last New Year’s Eve I wrote there’d never been a year quite like it in my lifetime, and that goes for 2021 as well. I’m not going to detail it all, but do want to bullet point it, because this is part of how I record things that matter to me. Here are some things that stand out:

  • Goldie died at 17. She was the loudest cat in the universe, a total pain, and we miss her.
  • Tony moved into the rest home in June after it became clear even with Hospice support he was no longer safe at home. It was a dreadful time, but necessary. He’s settled in well and on the surface is doing better, although actually he’s getting sicker all the time.
  • My best friend Sandra and her wee dog Bruno moved in with me. It works well for both of us; I’m super grateful for her being here.
  • I had a stomach ulcer rupture in March and had emergency surgery. I was incredibly sick – the Dr said “you stood at the gates”. He also said I’d earned a lifetime prescription for anti ulcer meds.
  • I had a few trips to Hokitika to visit Alan and Penny. Penny and I are working on a collaborative art exhibition that’s pushing our skills and interests. In December Alan and I did a road trip to Tekapo, Wanaka etc and I got to see more of the South Island. The total break was just what I needed.
  • In November I got my second total knee replacement. As the surgeon predicted, it’s not quite as good as my first one, but it’s still a bloody miracle! For the first time in 9 years I’m walking without any sort of mobility aid.
  • I’ve done a lot of art, enjoyed my work, spent a lot of time on Twitter, and tried to stay safe and sane.

When I look at that list, it’s been a tricky year with some very hard stuff. As always, I’m grateful for good medical care for Tony and I, the friendships I enjoy, and the love of family and close friends. I’m not convinced 2022 is going to be any easier in some senses, but I’m heading into it determined to make the best of the new opportunities that await me.

Tony and I at Christmas
Tony and Sandra have been friends for 30 years
My BIL Jim, Tony, my sister Ailsa and I
Penny and I share a love of art, food and local government!
She was a total brat, but she was our brat!
Out on a river near Hokitika with Alan.

A lot of Christmas, a little art

Tony has been home for days in a row; yesterday I took him to see his friend Len who isn’t doing so well,. Tony had a rough night and was super tired today – we need to watch next weekend that we do even less.

I haven’t had a lot of art time, but managed to squeeze some inky finger time in today. I’ve been making gelli print papers with my new Klimt inspired stencils by Elizabeth St Hilaire for I’ve worked on deli paper and Hahn sumi-e rice paper. Once that was done I played in my 6×6 Dina Wakley art journals for a couple of hours. Some of the pages are cut and extended so the writing looks odd unless you see it in person.

I had a break

I haven’t been much of a blogger lately, for a few reasons. There’s some things I’m concerned about I can’t or won’t talk about publicly, which is unusual for me. However, in the new year I’ll blog a lot, because I’ll be doing some daily art challenges.

I had a quick break in the South Island recently. Alan was going to visit his sister MaryRose in Tekapo so I went along for the ride. We visited the Mt John Observatory where she used to work, had lunch up Aorangi Mt Cook (they went for a walk, which I couldn’t do yet) had lunch in Wanaka, visited Haast and watched the Hector’s Dolphins at Jackson’s Bay.

We had dinner out with her two night’s in a row in Tekapo; the restaurants were fantastic, and enjoyed a walk round the outdoor sculpture exhibition along the lakefront. We went for a drive up the Ahuriri Valley, in the Lindis Pass area – the scenery is just incredible. We stopped for lunch at Franz Joseph on the last day, and checked out some beautiful waterfalls along the way.

I took us 5 days to get back to Hokitika after he picked me up in Christchurch. I’d never seen any of the South Island except for Blenheim, Christchurch, Hokitika and Greymouth, so it was a real treat. We ate out for lunch and dinner every day, and I relaxed and left my worries behind.

We got back in time to go to a Christmas party Friday night, which was fun. I’d done quite a bit of shopping so wore a new dress and a new pair of shoes with a slight heel – the first heel in 9 years, thanks to my two new knees.

On Sunday Penny and I had lunch and talked art. I’ve started writing poetry in the books we’re creating and it’s pushing us both a bit. Honest feelings, permanently recorded for others to read, and emotionally hard … but part of healing and moving on.

Art, pain, healing

Over the weekend I’ve been talking with Penny about food addiction again … it’s a complicated thing. An alcoholic can potentially avoid alcohol for the rest so their lives, a nicotine addict doesn’t have to smoke a cigarette ever again. A food addiction faces their addiction multiples time a day. Is it hard? Yes. Do we always succeed? No! But we’re not giving up either…

The other pain is my knee. I’ve got really good movement, and a scan on Friday showed there’s no clot in my calf. That’s great news, but does mean we still don’t know why it’s so tight and sore. Last night I slept with only one pillow knee to ankle instead of two. I slept ok but my hip’s been uncomfortable today. I think I can persist with just the one though and let the muscles adjust.

For me, with pain comes art. Actually, art comes with most things; pain, joy, sadness, anger, love and so on. This weekend I made a Teesha Moore inspired journal, starting with a large sheet of Fabriano Artistico paper that I cut, folded and stitched. Not quite my usual style, but a lot of fun.

Facing a fear

I’m pretty good at honest conversations these days, and facing stuff. I admit to my addictive nature, and talk about the impacts. There are still things I put to the back of my mind though.

Today I voiced a nagging fear. I’ve walked oddly for 9 years, mainly with the aid of a walking stick. Now I have two new knees, and am starting to walk without crutches some of the time. Will I walk normally once my knee has fully healed? Do I know how or is the muscle memory gone?

I was under a neurologist’s care for a while. I have some obvious problems, but we couldn’t get to the bottom of it as my “I need new knees” walk made diagnosis difficult. We talked about whether I’d had a stroke when I was put on life support, or have MS. I’ve got a decent sized lesion next to my spine, but we don’t think it does anything. In the end, we decided to wait until my knee replacements were done, as a diagnosis isn’t necessarily useful.

In the next few weeks I’ll need to face it. I might walk totally normally, and it’s so simple. I might need some physio to learn to walk properly, and it’s a bit more work but totally ok. Or I might still walk badly and need to connect up with the neurologist again, and deal with … something …

Whatever the outcome, I’ll cope with it. Having voiced my worry is a really good start.

It’s a miracle

The damage to my knees was severe according to the radiologist and surgeon. I’ve had significant osteo arthritis in my knees since at least 2012, the year I had a car accident which damaged them further. As a result of the bones eroding, my legs were very bowed. It was so bad my surgeon was concerned he might not get either knee totally straight.

It’s just over two weeks since my second total knee replacement. There’s still a lot of swelling and bruises but these before and after photos tell the story…

If I’m not crafting…

If I’m not doing any art or craft you know things are rough! This knee replacement is way more painful than the first. Although less painful to walk on than my right knee was, the left was the more damaged of the two. The level of bruising and swelling suggests getting it all straight was a brutal process.

I was sent home with just Panadol for pain relief and, after days of mucking round, I’ll finally get something stronger tomorrow. Hopefully life will feel better.

At the moment I only sleep for a couple of hours before waking up in pain then, when I move to get comfortable it turns to agony for a few minutes. There’s a lot of middle-of-the-night tears.

It’s not the new knee that hurts. It’s my hip, which is having to realign itself, and my thigh as I haven’t used that muscle for 9 years, walking from the hip instead. Basically I’ve got dreadful bursitis.

Anyway, by tomorrow afternoon I hope I’ll be able to sit for more than an hour at a time. I need to spend some time at my art desk and art out all the feelings. In the meantime I’ve tried to keep up with my exercises despite the pain, even sending my poor sister photographic evidence!