FIRST PASSING OF BRUSH to the LEFT · Aug 13, 07:07 PM

Through the Spring of 2016, my right hand tremor was getting so severe, that i was having a hard time painting. I had started a large 30 × 60 commission before the tremor was getting bad. But it was getting so severe that I had to push down tightly on my wrist to make the tremor subside enough to paint right hand, so my neurologist offered a drug (propanolol) to try to settle the tremor. So i was game to try having tried so many natural alternatives. My first thought was maybe it will buy me time.
And lo and behold, the drug worked !!! But knowing the drug may stop working, i started practicing writing with my left hand, drawing circles, straight lines, and following lines of the practice letter books for kindegarten children. I practiced in front of a mirror so could see how i was holding the pencil in the right hand, then switched hands to try to get the same grasp.

I thought trying to write and doodle should be the first step, as well as brushing teeth, shaving, applying eyeliner, and eating. I figured once i mastered writing and all personal and household tasks, i would then proceed to start to practice painting with left hand.
But within two months, my tremor got severely worse. And with my fine motor skills not developed yet, such as writing, i couldn’t consider painting detail with my left hand.
……So i thought my career was over! ……….
Which lead me down a dark path … anger … frustration … i remember looking at my file of reference photos to be next year’s future paintings … then throwing them to the floor in a rage, screaming … stu saw the tale end of this as he entered the attic studio … can’t imagine what he was thinking … is she crazy .. should i leave the room … maybe she didn’t see me … i could back up and leave … but he did the opposite by hugging me tightly, enough that my rage turned to tears … and i cried and cried, like i was mourning my best friend.
But after i calmed down, stu and i had a conversation, sitting in the studio, as i was picking up the papers and photos from THE FILE (of future paintings) and showing him what i will miss … this one, and that one … he sat calmly and quietly as i spoke at great length of each photo that i can’t do, then he finally spoke up and calmly said, well maybe you should give your brushes away … hmmmm …
And that was the first step to the next aha moment …. i took a break for awhile to seriously think about my options.
Then, i had to go back to the large 30 × 60 COMMISSION i was working on. Too much time had passed and i really had to get it done … the clients weren’t pressuring me (they were good friends who understood), but it was me who put pressure on myself. I had the painting blocked in with shapes of colour, and had some detail before the propalonol wore off. But when the drug was wearing off, i had to forcefully holding my wrist down…which caused pain in my shoulders, wrist and forearm…i thought i really can’t finish the painting in this much pain, AND I had only just begun (there was the whole right side of the painting, 2 trees, and detail, and fine branches, etc)!


The above image is an MRI of my brain. Note that the MRI takes mirror images of the brain .. so the lesion is shown on the right, but it is in fact on my left side. There should not be any white lesions unless the brain is abnormal.

SO .. to continue….every time i sat down to paint, i had an internal dialogue .. my right brain kept saying gently, “give me the brush” (referring to the left hand) .. then my left brain would say firmly, “NO YOU CAN’T EVEN WRITE!”… and this argument continued for months while i struggled to paint right hand! It was like a child saying, “mom give me the brush”, and the mom SCOLDING, “NO!”
(SIDEBAR … First off, I should say, I am not crazy! haha. I didn’t know what this was. i have never experienced this … but my research neurologist at St Michaels Hospital, who is doing a Case Report, studying how i switched brains, has heard of this phenomenon such as when a person suffers from a brain injury or stroke. There is a struggle between the brains … he referred to the left hemisphere a bully, while the right hemisphere is more creative, free and brave to try.

SO AFTER 8 WEEKS OF THIS internal BATTLE, with the argument escalating …. my RIGHT HAND begrudgingly gave my brush to my LEFT HAND
it was CHILLING!!!!!!! It felt so natural .. so real .. that it gave me chills (and still does). It was the moment where my brain clicked like a switch … everything became POSITIVE, FREE … and Life changing!
In that moment i knew i would be a left hand painter……………

okay .. so i asked myself, how do we do this?
(Apparently my neurologist says, they are finding once your left brain surrenders the power to allow the right brain to try, they start to work together).
That’s the simple answer … I will tell that story later…BUT it would be a huge learning curve of settling my right hand down while the left was trying to practice (They call it sympathetic movement).

Below is a closeup of the painting with right hand and left hand.
I slowed during those months of BATTLE between THE BRAINS.
But I started blocking it in seriously in September and finished the entire painting by early november.
A very special piece!

Click thumbnail to enlarge each image

  • RIGHT HAND BLOCK IN early Sept 2016
    Mid Sept 2016
    Bark, leaves, small branches
    Late Oct 2016
  • 30 x 60 Completed
  • Celebration INSTALLED November 2017

— Carol Currie


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