This week, after a lot of struggles and a lot of fits and starts, I have finished a new 24 x 30 of the Abbey of Senanque, in France. This is one of the beautiful scenes of France, a country full of amazing subjects for paintings -with the old abbey nestled between green hills, and fields of lavender glowing in perfect rows of purple and violet.
However, I have to write a note to all my friends, family, and collectors to let you all know that I have decided to go on a very "low-work" hiatus from painting. This is my first real slowdown in work since 2003. As some of you guys may know, I have been struggling for years with lumbar-spinal arthritis. Recently I have had to admit that this chronic condition has taken so much from me that I am at risk of losing or ruining some of the most important people and enjoyments in my life. It is not my intention to bore all of you with some long litany of medical gripes. Lord knows, we've all had our problems and I happen to believe that most people don't really find a long medical confession that interesting...however I am also a believer that most of us can handle a little more truth than we are used to getting. So for all of you who want to know, I'll briefly tell you my situation.
After years of intermittent back trouble, I began to have severe problems sleeping in 2006. At first I could take an aspirin or two in the middle of the night to deal with it. Then that stopped having any effect. What was happening was that I was getting such pain in my back when I lay down flat, that it was waking me up and preventing restful sleep. Naturally, I was utterly exhausted, and the wear and tear began to show. I tried countless cures and remedies, conventional and unconventional. Acupuncture, massage, chiropractic treatment - medications and more medications. And still the problem has persisted - and has, in fact, gotten worse. Every night has been an agony of burning needles of pain, sharp and endless, coursing up the middle of my lower back. Other times I lay there in misery with dull, sore aches - as always, unable to sleep.
Recent tests have revealed that I have two bulging discs in my back, a herniated disk, and significant arthritic degeneration in the facet joints of my back. Friends who have not seen me in awhile have been shocked to find a skinny, hollow eyed version of me who limps and who stumbles and has bad balance. Now that I have lost a good deal of feeling in my right leg and some in my left foot, I have committed to an intensive course of physical therapy and rest, to try to rehabilitate the multiple, horrible problems with my back. This is what the neurological specialists have advised me to do.
So, the plan for the next 3 to 4 months is to take a very "low-work" schedule to focus on physical therapy and to be with my family, most notably my new 1 month old son Liam. If I can work myself into some kind of acceptable shape, I plan a full return to work in mid-summer. (Don't worry Jared, you'll still get your Catalinas painting, but it may take a little bit more time to complete :)
At the moment there are still an adequate number of paintings in all 3 of the galleries where I show work. And there are a handful that are drying and will soon be made available. After I finish the next commission piece I am working on, any further commissions or special projects will be given a realistic time frame for completion in coordination with the rehab of my back. I also plan to work, whenever possible, to complete the "Fire in the Rocks" book project, and will keep you all updated when it's available. My website will continue to be maintained and updated, so please don't hesitate to visit.
So, to all my wonderful friends out there who have supported me and encouraged me thru this very painful struggle, I love you guys and appreciate every ounce of your support. To my collectors and friends at the galleries, rest assured that I am not hitting the stop button...rather I'm gearing down to 2nd and will be driving in the slow lane for a few months.
My thanks to everyone - here's to a recovery of health, and to the next batch of canvases that will be waiting for a blazing rush of energy.