My pastel palette + a challenging week

My studio palette

This past week I spent some time getting one of my pastel pochade boxes cleaned, modified, and organized for the upcoming plein air season. I have two pochade boxes; one is for the studio (this decent little box shown here, but not apt for outdoors) and the other is my die hard Open Box M. A while back I picked up Richard McKinley's book 'Pastel Pointers' and in it he had a photo and explanation of how he lays out his plein air box. So I thought I'd rearrange my pastels, one by one, and put them back just as he recommends. It's sort of a meditation of sorts, quietly placing and rearranging them like a mosaic. Originally, my box was arranged from l-r: reds, yellows, warm greens, cool greens, blues, purples. I shifted the pattern in my box as Richard illustrated and also added an area on the far right for neutrals. While my pastels were all out of the box, I decided to clean the pastels and washed the memory foam that lines my box. I also put a sturdier clip to secure my box from opening while carrying...if I ever take this one out of the studio. All it needs now is a tripod adaptor.

This week also was a trying one for me health wise.
I had 4 doctor appointments and no time for exercise (which I love doing, really) and a full day of driving art round trip to Tacoma and back that left me with no time to paint. My doc diagnosed me with Celiacs Disease after having a 'fun' endoscopy (that's when they put a camera down into your small intestines). This means I have to become clean of any gluten products, an element found in wheat, rye and barley. Did you know that wheat, rye and barley is in nearly almost all processed foods, the backbone of the American diet? It's even in some chocolates! No more tabouli, soups made with boullion, beer, fish and chips, as well as food that gets traces of gluten from sharing the same cooking utensils, etc. I am about to become a picky eater... Augh! The good news is that I have never craved breads and pastas, and I can still enjoy wine....whew! After taking in this news, I went into the grieving process of denial (I have no symptoms, how could I even have this celiacs thing?), anger (why me?), sadness (yes, I wept on the proceedure table) and then onto acceptance (a good attitude helps with this last one). After researching and reading more, I am finding that it won't be too bad and am actually looking forward to the many benefits of being gluten-free. I'm hoping to have more energy (imagine that), sharper memory, no achy arms while I sleep and a slew of other benefits ... to be ready to rock when the sun comes out and celebrate that at least I am alive and blessed to paint and create! I raise my glass to celebrate another great plein air season!

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Blogger Kari Tirrell said...

Going gluten free is much easier than you think. Certainly much easier than when I was diagnosed nine years ago. There is much more celiac awareness now, restaurants with GF menus, excellent GF products, etc. You will be fine. Feel free to email me if you like. I'd be happy to share recommendations for my favorite products and books. It's a minor adjustment. You'll be fine and you'll feel great!

4/4/11, 6:09 PM  
Blogger Donna T said...

You always have such a positive attitude toward the challenges you have faced, Brenda, and I admire your spirit! It's good to hear Kari's hopeful words too. I'm looking forward very much to your plein air work - it inspires me!

4/5/11, 5:57 AM  
Blogger Kim Vanlandingham said...

Wow! What a week! First, I hope your new diet works for you. I'm so weak when it comes to willpower, so hang in there. I've heard of Celiac's dis, but don't know anyone who suffers from it. Also, I'm so glad you mentioned what kind of field easel you use. I'm in the market and just went to the site you had listed. I work with oils, but I need something lightweight and versatile. I'll be checking them out!

4/5/11, 8:50 AM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Hi Kari, Thanks for such encouraging words. I just attended a GF tour at New Season's market and my eyes have been opened! Also thanks for the email with all your recommendations! You are a gem. :)

Donna, life is an attitude. It's how we face things and conquer so many ills. I too can't wait for the weather to stabilize around here in Oregon.

Kimberly, I;m hanging in there. Small doses a day of info and I should be on my way to better health. My Open Box M is awesome, but forewarned, I modified it in many ways to suit my pastel needs. That may have to be another post altogether. :)

4/5/11, 12:14 PM  
Blogger Celeste Bergin said...

one question, Brenda..how did they know to check for it if you showed no symptoms?
Well, your pastel mosaic is so pretty...it makes up for the sad part of your post. ....and as you say, it won't be sad at all as you've made up your mind to deal with it. I've always wondered about Celiac disease, because apparently Irish people are inordinately more prone to it than others. Why would that be, I wonder?

4/5/11, 9:53 PM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Hi Celeste, good question.

I go for routine diabetic checkups and my doc decided to test me with a simple blood draw because he has found that Type 1 Diabetics are very prone to this condition. It is a hereditary disease so I am asking all my blood relatives to get screened. Even if you are not Celiacs, one may still be 'gluten intolerant' but without the intestinal damage.

Symptoms are:
low energy
diarrhea or soft stool
intestinal problems
joint pain
headaches, migraines
itchy skin, rashes
numbness or tingling in arms
muscle cramps
infertility, miscarriage
weight loss
thyroid disease
...and cancer

So you can see that there are many symptoms that are very common and can often be overlooked for diagnosis. Only a blood test would be the telling way to determine celiacs, and followed up by a scope to see if damage or cancer is present in the small intestines.

European hereditary is a huge factor because these cultures were raised on foods containing grains for centuries, however, many other cultures are catching up. I've also read that with the onset of biodiversifyication the grain's new composition has and may be the cause of the increase in gluten intolerance persons.

"Oh great!" you may say, but the benefits of going gluten free are awesome!

Imagine this:
improved energy level
elevated mood
improved concentration
memory retention
....and many other health conditions that are exasperated by gluten are reduced or easier to control, too many to list here.

Hope this helps!

4/6/11, 8:20 AM  
Blogger Cmichaudart said...

great post full of useful info health and pastel-wise. I want, need to know more about your pastel palette for plein air...a tough one in my book, had Mckinley's class and still ill at ease in the field with the 'wrong' colors...whine...write more on this. and good luck with the diet adjustments!!

4/7/11, 4:15 AM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Thanks Cindy,
I'm in the process of cleaning up my plein air pochade box and will make that the topic of my next post. Look forward to juicy info on the modifications and pastels I use.

4/7/11, 9:43 AM  

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