It’s been an unusual few days. Last Wednesday afternoon, following my first sewing session in months (I hemmed two pairs of jeans and made a headband), my lower back started to ache. I chalked it up to bad sitting posture and figured it would go away overnight, but it didn’t. The next day I did an hour of gentle stretching and then discovered I couldn’t sit at all without discomfort. So I didn’t — which meant that basically all my normal activities were off-limits. Instead, I tidied and cleaned the house, did laundry, tended the garden, and cooked — all before noon! After lunch I really didn’t know what else to do with myself, so I lay on my back and read Vegetarian Times and two issues of Sunset magazine. I devoured the gardening articles, especially this one comparing flowers to Lady Gaga and Bollywood pictures. We were going through a heat wave, so I kept my windows open morning and evening, and felt the breeze and heard the sounds from outside. In the evening Erik and I went for a slow walk. Aside from the back pain, it was a very relaxing way to spend the day!
The next day I felt the same way, so I did more morning stretches and resolved to take another no-sitting day. But I got fidgety. The back pain was confined to a small portion of my lower spine, nice and symmetrical, and it only bothered me when I sat down. Other than that, thanks to all the stretching and my restful Thursday, I felt fabulous! So I ran some errands, including visits to two plant nurseries (inspired by all the lush photos in Sunset). I came home hungry for lunch and with some new herbs and a sweet little geranium with lemon-scented leaves. But that still only occupied me for half the day. After all that resting and all the horticultural well-filling, I really wanted to make something bursting with life and color and deliciousness.
I got out my pencils and paints and promised myself I would take standing and stretching breaks as often as possible. On a piece of handmade paper I sketched a curvy woman, wearing fitted clothes and holding a dessert in each hand. I wanted her whole appearance to be as luscious and blooming as the spring! Once I started to paint, I gave her a luminous skin tone (very much like mine at its best) and a rainbow-hued top, and I put my own new shoes on her toes. When it came time to do the background, I added some landscaping — a nod to the beautiful plants I’d been seeing on the page and in person — and a bit of moss between the paving stones.
When I finished the painting I couldn’t have been happier. Although the girl I painted doesn’t look exactly like me, she looks the way I feel: confident, comfortable, beautiful, and surrounded by colorful delights! I can’t get enough of looking at her — or of admiring the plant in the lower right. I still feel that my painting style is flatter and more cartoony than I’d like, but that plant gives me hope that I can learn to paint with more depth and volume. And I have been getting lots of practice. On Saturday I had my first meeting of the IWL workshop, and it was so energizing and so much fun! For my first homework I am painting a story that I like very much. It’s more surreal than other work I’ve done, and possibly even more personal. It’s due on Wednesday so I will likely share it with you then.
In the meantime, I will continue to sit as little as possible, breathe deeply, and relax!