In addition to working in fiber (which is how we spend about 75% of our time), we’re also working on large format paintings. When working with paint, we approach our art in our ‘traditional’ process of taking turns working on the canvas. We also, at times, find ourselves painting simultaneously. For example, in this diptych, there had been an instance where Lisa had been painting in an area in the lower left corner of the piece when I took the brush out of her hand, without asking, so I could use her paint in an area on the right canvas. We move seamlessly around each other, and still without conversation. It’s a dynamic way to work, allowing for instant response to what we’re adding to the canvases.
Next topic is my health, which continues to be complicated. I like to say, I’m a work in progress. The monthly treatment that I receive is allowing me to have a much better quality of life. Each month, I get 2-3 weeks of feeling significantly better, in exchange for one week of treatment and recovery from the side effects. With the IVIG treatment, I function with reduced pain, my muscles are more cooperative, and my head is clearer. I am, however, dealing with the progression of my disease. Whether it’s having temporary episodes of paralysis in a leg, having some organ dysfunction, or increased pain in new areas of my body, I never know when or how I will be affected. Though I’m living in the realm of having a chronic neurological disease, there’s not enough known about my particular type to have more than a pain management regiment. Over the years, as I and we have continued to adapt to my physical needs, we have an ever-increasing gratitude for being artists. The work inspires us to keep at it because it’s therapeutic, because it gives us something to do with our anxiety when we’re challenged, and because it lifts our spirits. We feel privileged to be able to spend our time observing and interpreting the world, and in doing so, hopefully honoring it for all it has given us.
Meanwhile, working with Lisa in our studio gives us tremendous flexibility to adjust to my day to day needs. Adapting is the key to our ability to continue working and maintaining our longevity as artists. Recently, in order to reduce Lisa’s stress, we decided to reduce the days our studio is open to the public. Instead of five days a week, we’re now open three – Wednesday through Friday (and the eve of First Fridays). This allows us to be open for visits, but also to have Tuesdays and Saturdays flexible for whatever else we might need to do in or outside the studio.
We’re also finding ways to have more balance in our lives. Lisa recently discovered gravel cycling, which allows her to ride far and away into the surrounding hills taking in the quiet corners of Central Oregon. For me, I’m staying a little closer to home, playing on a Curling team at our neighboring ice pavilion. Maybe because of my work, it turns out I have great spatial relations, which makes me a good Skip. Also, this position gives me the excuse to yell my guts out during play, which is a great stress reliever.
All of this is happening as we approach the 20th year of our collaboration. When we started working together, the decisions we made felt like they were the best solutions to the puzzles arising in those moments. It’s funny how, looking back now, they seem like necessary steps towards positioning ourselves to manage everything that’s happening today. This vantage point gives us a deep appreciation for all the thoughtful decisions (and dumb luck) that brought us to now – having the time, health, and space to pour everything we’re working through into our art. As we always feel, and try to acknowledge it every day as we start and end our time at the studio, that we are fortunate for everyone and everything that has supported us along the way.
You can hear our interview during the first third of the airing, as well as the rest of the inspiring hour-long program here: OPB State of Wonder.