10 years ago today...

Updated: Nov 18

10 years ago, on October 14, I had a stroke, which paralyzed my painting hand (right hand). While this was incredibly challenging, it allowed me to learn; I had to use a new "tool," my left hand.

Here are some of the adaptions I've made, which might help you too:

I started doing this drawing exercise as a way to train my left hand to do the artwork that my right hand could no longer do.

I use a T-square to paint a parallel line on my canvas on my easel.

I tend to take my canvas and go back and forth from my easel to a tabletop. Sometimes it is easier for me to lay my canvas down flat to do detailed work. And when I am trying to draw parallel lines, I also work with the T-square. When I'm drawing angled lines, I use a ruler.

On my easel, I use a wrench to loosen up the knob to adjust the height of the ledge for the height of the canvas.

Here are some of my worst nightmares... a screw-on lid and a tube of paint! But, instead of having to wrestle with them (or using my teeth) ...

...I use squeeze bottles instead because it's easier and I can use it with one hand!

I also use an under-the-counter jar opener. It's amazing! I have one in my kitchen and one in the studio. You place the jar with the jar lid in between the grooves to help create a grip, and it grabs hold of it, and with a simple twist, you can open it. Perfect for a tight lid or those of us who can only use one hand! :)

I learned that half of a tennis ball is an excellent tool for cleaning brushes: one hand holding the tennis ball and one hand for cleaning the brush. Not being able to do it traditionally, I rigged a way to hold the tennis ball and then put it in the sink's corner. It does wobble a little, but it works. Now for the bigger brushes!

I use a Pro-Track mahl stick. What is a mahl stick, you say??? Well...

...it is a stick used by painters as a rest for the hand while working.

This picture shows the artist holding the stick with one hand and painting with the other. I have it fastened to my easel at the top for the same effect.

As you can see, I can slide the mahl stick along the track and rotate as needed, then tighten it with the screws at the top. This way I don't need my other hand/arm to hold it! I haven't been able to find another Pro-Track mahl stick online, but there is a similar one on Etsy and one at Jerry's Artarama. or you can make your own like the one on Muddy Colors.


These are just a few of the strategies that I have found very helpful in my transition from being a right-handed to a left-handed artist, but I think you'll find that they can be beneficial to any of you as well.

If you think of any other artist hacks or tips that you think might help or would be fun to share, I would love to hear about them!

© 2017-2020 Annie Salness Artist. All rights reserved.
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