In June, The Stroke Survivors Tattler will be featuring artists who are also stroke survivors. I was asked by the editor to contribute an article about Bob and his artwork. Here it is:
|One of Bob's cartoons, pre-stroke|
His dream was to go to art school. A dream that kept getting put off because of finances and responsibilities, including a diasterous early marriage that ended in divorce. Soon after the divorce, at the age of 32, he finally fulfilled his dream and, two years later, graduated with a degree in Commercial Art/Graphic Design.
|Bob's Pen & Ink Pointillism|
He loved working with pointillism, a drawing technique using little dots. He loved cartooning.
|Mona Lisa's Cat|
He made most of his money drawing company logos and t-shirt designs. He did a lot of freelance work including work for Florida Blood Services and Taco Bell.
|Page from our children's book|
In 2010, he suffered a second, and much more severe, stroke which left his right hand/arm completely paralyzed, his right leg partially paralyzed and totally blind in the left eye and with vision problems in the right eye, severe aphasia and a feeding tube. He is now, for all intents and purposes, mostly bedbound though he can transfer into a wheelchair with the aid of a slideboard and walk with assistance at the parallel bars. After four weeks in Acute Rehab, the hospital wanted him sent to a nursing home. I brought him home instead.
|Early post-stroke drawing.|
|Attempt to draw a bat.|
It was then I knew there was hope.
Though when I coaxed him to draw, he still refused.
The next Christmas, when my parents asked what they could buy for Bob, I told them to buy him a professional artist sketchbook and graphic pencils. I thought, perhaps, if he had some good quality professional supplies it might incite him to draw again.
|First complete drawing post-stroke.|
He called it Aphasia Mind.
He turned then to drawing haunting and surrealistic landscapes which had an other-worldly quality, such as the one he called "Obstacles".
His artwork continued to evolve. Getting more and more detailed.
|Portrait of Diane|
Two things have just amazed me. The first is that being right-handed and now using his left hand, his handwriting is horribly shaky. Yet, he can draw such fine lines, steady details, perfect shading.
He is still a perfectionist when he draws, often working on a project for weeks and, then, simply tossing it out if he deems it "not good". When he is finished with a work, he indicates to me how he wants it cropped and/or centered when I scan his drawing into the computer. He also comes up with the titles for his drawings.
It can take him two to three months to complete a drawing. He works mostly in the mornings, while I do chores around the house or blog.
This is very different from the way he used to work, which was a meticulously planning out a project before starting it: he used angled rulers, graph paper, a light table and he completely mapped out the proportions then sketched an outline before filling in the details.
Or maybe he's just trying to tell me that he is still in there. Even though his brain is damaged and his body crippled and he cannot speak very well. He's still in there. He's still the man, the artist, I met and married and deeply love.
For that, I am glad.