Thursday, 6 September 2007

Painting with shaky hands

One of the things I ought to point out about my painting is that I have what is known as a 'benign essential tremor'. In plain English, I have shaky hands. (Under stress, I can extend this to whole other parts of my body, but the hands are the usual thing.)

It is benign in the sense that it won't kill me unless I take up a career in bomb disposal. 'Essential' means it is just part of me - of my 'essence'. However, it does also mean I really can't draw a straight line, not even with a ruler on some occasions.

Fortunately, it can be controlled with beta-blockers, so I'm rather 1960s in that I can honestly say my best work is done while I'm on drugs.

Even with the drugs, though, the problem doesn't entirely go away, especially as painting has its stressful moments! This does explain some of the features of my work. Think of it as trying to hit a moving target.

I could go on at great length about the social effects of living with an embarrassing condition - especially one that other people point out as if you'd never noticed: "Blimey mate, your hands are shaking a bit, aren't they?" (Oddly enough, it is usually a man who makes this helpful observation.) I'm tempted to reply, "Really? I hadn't noticed," but usually content myself with, "Yes, they've always done that," whilst smiling through gritted teeth. Actually, what I really want to do at this point is punch his lights out and say, "Yes, but they still make a good fist, punk!" Sadly, neither my build nor my religion really allow for this.

In the days of my youth, I used to paint HO scale model soldiers. My brother still says how he was amazed I managed to do it. These days I can't even see them without glasses on, but I'm pretty amazed too.

This is one reason why I've taken to painting big - 3' x 2½ is a good size. The only problem then is you wind up with a thing the size of a small coffee table. The present still-life is much smaller than that, though.

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