Art: scribbling to explore shapes

These are the scribbles I made.
I know they’re nothing.
But I am showing you them because they are everything:


These are two figures by Bonnard. I sketched them pretty soon after I returned from visiting his work in Amsterdam. I love how the countoures of the dress and the hand of “dog lady” echo’s in the shape of the dog. The sheer and shared dog happiness is bursting from the page.

The “cat lady” also echoos shapes the cat has. In her dress, in the leaves around her.
These are things I revel in. Shapes, contours, echoing, relations.

Here now follow the scribbles I made this morning, trying to catch animal shapes from the internet (as I am convinced Bonnard took his cues from photographs) with the same freedom and happiness Bonnard used:

I’m a cat person but dogs are easier ;)
Dogs have limbs and ears all flying about and being flappy, literally illustrating their mood and their zest for life. Cats are more contained balls of fur, with ears at impossible angles. Their expression is more in the face. Which are not drawable at all.

My sketches.
It takes a lot to show these on the internet. They are so easy to be criticized.

But I want to show:
a – that art begins with harmless scribbles, without fear of doing it right or wrong, without self criticism. Just scribbling away, having some fun.
b – that I have to come back from a long distance. Usually a page and a half of these kind of scribbles is just the warming up for an artist. But this took me two hours. And this is all I have and also the best I could do. This is where I am at the moment, with my brain, with my ability to concentrate. It’s not pretty. But I am not ashamed of it.

I think I may like to document how I slowly work my way back to making art, here, on this blog. Share it with you.
Yes, I think I’d like that. That we may together see how things come together for me. How all that talk and thinking about shapes translates in actual art study and expression.
This blog as part of my artist’s notebook? Because I love notebooks…


Monday: Spring, Art and Methylation

Today is Monday. I just went for my daily little walk and the air was soft. Spring! The birds were calling it too.
Suddenly I remember Spring and Summer. The smell. The joy of just being amidst green grass. Bugs flying about. How could I have forgotten that feeling?

It’s the same in the Fall. In Fall there’s that first day when suddenly you remember how it is to have cold in your body. Being cold. Somehow you forgot about it in Spring and Summer.

Today was that day for me: Spring! With that smell.

Today is Monday. Last Wednesday and Thursday I had switched to another pill for Methylation Cycle Protocol. Untill then I had been taking Methylcobalamine (mB12) and Folinic Acid. Both processed forms of the foods that are so good for you: vitamine B12 and Folate. Both of which I do not process well in my body cells due to mutations in my genes. (MTR and MTRR to be specific)(to be totally specific: I’m homozygous for MTR A2756G and for MTRR A669)

I had been taking 1200 mcg of mB12 and about 800 to 1200 mcg of folinic acid (the pill Leucovorin). This fired up my methylation cycle nicely. My cells suddenly started using “B12” and “Folate” and started detoxing.
On Wednesday I read about another form of already processed folate: Metafolin (brand). The nutriënt Folate goes through numerous steps before the cell is able to utilize it, about 12 of them. Folinic acid is the third step and Metafolin is the last. Making Metafolin the form easily absorbed.

So on Wednesday I took a pill that combined mB12 with Metafolin. I had already noticed I’m quite vulnerable to the folinic acid and thought I’d safe my body the trouble of converting it.
Thursday too: 1200 mcg of mB12 and 800 mcg Metafolin (this is pretty much the correct ratio although I think it’s empirical found, not theoretical)

By Thursday evening I was stark raving mad. Very hormonal. Desperate. Tired of life. Convinced it was all to no good anyway. Convinced I had thrown it all away, that I was useless and that from here on it would only get worse. Life.
Luckily I know what this is. This is toxification of the brain because the body cannot process the toxins fast enough and/or there’s die-off. Here’s a good description of how it works.
I breathed through it, cognitively. I took extra Valerian, extra HCL and extra Progesterone.

On Friday I took a break from Methylation. I had that workshop Enamel the next day and wanted to rest up a little. During the day my good spirits returned. I got energy. I even withstood the bout of stress that the legal papers about the manure plant brought. Double Progesterone got me through the night.
On Saturday I took no Methylation. I did the workshop just fine. Was utterly tired afterwards and just about made it home.
On Sunday I took no Methylation protocol. I was soooo tired.

But a curious thing happened while on a break from Methylation. Art happened.
On Friday I studied online about enamelling. Found lots of art. Thought about them a bit.
On Saturday there was a piece of copper plate waiting for me to saw into a shape. This was possible because I was the only participant in the course, there was time for me to learn the techniques and deeper details. Usually they work on preshaped circles or squares. Now I got to saw.
Inspired by the workshop and having to make various pitstops on the drive home I got to think about shapes a lot ánd got to draw them on parking lots along the motor way.
Sunday I could do not much more than lay in my bed and surf and learn about enamel and think about shapes. About art! It all started humming! A lot of the old fascinations with shapes and contours and counter shapes came back. All the stuff that intrigued me when at the Art Academy. And before!

There was a small bout where I thought out a masterplan to become a professional enamelist.
But soon I realized this was one of those crazy, ambitious routes my mind takes when it wants control and assertance. (why this not english? you understand what I mean nonetheless, I hope)
So I shut down that train of thought and focussed on what ties this to my other fascinations: shapes, contours, countershapes, spaces. All my old friends.

I am ASTONISHED that this all came back to me yesterday. That it’s all still there.
It came together with the eagerness to explore. To sketch. To draw. To look. To explore with paint and fingers and scissors and colours.

Today is Monday. This morning I spend my golden hour thinking about shapes and sketching. I feel an artist again. I feel like me again.

But today is Monday. I have started Methylation Cycle Supplements again. I need to get rid of all the toxins that have built up in my body for decades. I have entered detox state again.
But at half the dose now. 500 mcg mB12 and 400 mcg Metafolin. (together with all the other nutriënts needed for this protocol: Mg, Mn, Se, I, Li, Zn, Mo)

I think this will kill the artist in me. No, not kill. Put to sleep. Wintersleep. Alive. But silent.
Soon I will enter brain fog again. Hormonal state even. Then all I can do is muddle through the day, eat my soup, take my supplements, take my walk and shed the toxins. Untill it goes better.
It will go slower at this lower dose. But I may be in a better mood.

All in all. Monday.
Spring is promised.
Artistry too.
If I can keep doing it slow, keep to two things a day, I will get there.

PS because I like it when everything makes sense I’m putting this link here, it explains why people with ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome need days (or weeks) to recuperate after a tiring day/event.
Especially the alinea below the middle called “Explanation of the Fatigue Problems in CFS Patients”. With all the talk about ATP.

For me recuperation time used to be three months. Then two weeks. Now two days. (6 if my gut health is involved, say with gluten)

By now it’s Monday afternoon and I can report that it seems my body has dealt with the detox of today. (I take my supplements in the morning, together with a very hearty breakfast brunch lunch). I feel the energy picking up. My brain is turning to art once again, I might do some reading. Who knows, another scribble?

a bit of everything

So I lie awake again. 200 mg Progesterone has nothing on me.

I also did two days of extra string methylation, this causes me to lie awake too. Even though I try to get the detoxification started as early in the day as possible, it still causes high noradrenaline in the middle of the night.

There are various sorts of B12 and of Folate stuffs and the last two days I took the most easily absorbed forms: Adenosyl-B12 and Metafolin.
This sends the Methylation cycle spinning.
I’ll be taking a break today
because sleep is everything

and tomorrow I’m taking a course in enemailling! Really looking forward to it.
I’m driving there myself, it’s about an hours drive, in my own squirrel mobile.
I’ll need food and salty water and ear plugs and a place to rest after I arrive.
Later today I will make some ganache and I plan to dip rice waffles into it.

In other news my right shoulder still hurts. I cannot knit, crochet, spin, felt or type in any constructive way.
I also cannot lay on the couch comfortably. Or find a position to sleep in at night.
So today is the day I am addressing this. Need some new attitudes for as long as my shoulder needs to heal.

  1. don’t hang in the couch any more. Go lie flat on your bed when resting.
  2. can no longer fiddle with hands when resting (knitting, writing, drawing) so it’s going to be something else: reading, snoozing, singing -learn overtones?-, solve thinking puzzle, listen to an audio book, …
  3. stop typing. Take a break from Ravelry, PhoenixRising, emailing and blogging. Find another way to take notes (doodle them? record on tape?)
  4. sit up straight when you sit, walk when you don’t. My big muscles are weak, I wanted to fortify them but something prevents this at the moment. Shouldn’t let them deteriorate further. Am enjoying my daily walk.
  5. I pull up the shoulder, emotional cause. I want to hide in it, embrace myself. Gotta find another way to hide and embrace. Sew up a sheep’s fleece? wear a cape?

So that’s my day’s work cut out for me.

On top of my daily job: to allow my body to rebuild itself. I can’t tell you how much effort it takes to keep my brain from chattering and interfering all the time. And methylation and PMS only make this worse. It’s a good thing I’m not on coffee or in the city because I’d be rocking!

Talking about city, it’s such a strange thing and I’ve been wanting to talk about it for weeks now. But when I’m in the city I’m all about art and culture and have this urge to paint. I even brought all my brushes and paints etc. with me to the cabin!
Haven’t touched them since.
When I’m in the cabin I’m all about slowing down, embracing the moment, breathing, enjoying flowers, birds and trees.

I couldn’t tell you which of the two is the true me. The city girl is more active, feels more alive. The nature girl feels more at peace,authentic.
They’re both me, I guess. Wanting to distinguish and assign values…. that’s soooo 2013 ;)

It makes me think though, about humans and our progress through time. Progress as: “look how we stumble along, the path we’ve followed and a reasonable projection of it into the future”.

I see the landscape around the cabin getting more cultivated by the day. Animals are driven back into little patches to live in. The patches get lost.
It’s the way nature documentaries have been tugging at our tear ducts for decades now: all doom and gloom. I do not wish to go that way.
Because there’s nothing to be done about it. This is how the human species stumbles forwards. You might as well curse the sun that’s about to rise tomorrow, again, aaargh.

I do feel a longing within to being in landscapes that involve no other humans. It’s probably a build in thing from the past, like 10.000 years and longer ago.
And a nice glug of sentimentality, of romancing living as one with nature. Oh, how I dream of living with the reindeer people somewhere in the North.
If there’s one thing documentaries about tribes or Survivor Man shows it’s that living in nature is no picknick. And you can’t do it alone. Man is a people lover.

So. I’m trying to get to grips with this pouting over Holland’s nature getting smaller by the minute. As if there was ever real nature left.
Well… some. I remember walking in the heather fields of Drenthe with my grandmother. Even though heather fields were maintained by shepherding people they have done so for a 1000 years and have been an ecosystem.

Anyway. There’s no use cursing at the sun or wringing your hands because human messes up his environment. The thing is to resign to the era you’re assigned to. I still live in a world that has some wild polar bears and tigers. The memory of a farmers country is not far behind me in these parts of the land.
In the city it’s only a short hop to the 16th century and life at that time. History is everywhere and it’s an inspiration. And it’s interesting to think about the things those people thought they were loosing. “Oh no! The oxen will disseapear!”
“No more tinder fungus for us, not now everyone has got that modern way of making fire!”
“in my time, we all carried our drinks in pigs bladder… what’s with this modern nonsense?”
(I’m just pulling these out of sleeve, not trying to be acurate or anything)

It makes sense to predict that urbanization will progress. Nature will be driven back.
I look at Japan for examples.
It will bring many interesting urban culture things that I cannot even begin to imagine. There will be lots of niches. And a few of them will be taken by animals who find a new way of living.

gotta stop typing, gotta take my walk.
sorry, no energy left for pictures. I can show you one of my coffee table:

two glorious minutes!

last weekend I woke up in the cabin, the sun was shining through the trees into my window and I sat up in my bed.
Feeling perfectly normal.
I didn’t feel ill, I didn’t feel tired, I didn’t feel heavy.
I felt like I felt when I was 18 yo, 28 yo. You know, when your body and you are the same, when there’s no two sides to the coin.

I sat on the side of my bed, yawned and stretched my arms out. Basking in the sun.
it was lovely.
Two minutes. For the first time in… I dunno… since I was 28 yo? (I’m 42 atm)

Un unexpected present and I remember it fondly as I bumble through my days.

pic by Andreas Krappweis

5 year plan to heal from ME/CFS: year 1

I fell ill in spring 2008.
pic by Jason Antony

It took 3 years for the panic to subside and to understand a bit of what was going on and to learn that doctors prefer to have one thing clearly wrong in a body. They do not so well with multiple system failures. They were 3 years of brainfog too. I was at 5 or 10% activity level. Getting out of bed didn’t happen on most days.

The next 3 years were used to get a grip on things. To educate myself. I didn’t know what I was doing but slowly I learned about how they work: my digestion, my sleep, my hormones, lymphe, cell function, mind etc. Slowly a coherence emerged. In these years I made significant recovery. Brainfog lifted, stomach pains became less and overall energy level increased.

Especially the last year has seen me leap forwards, both in knowledge and in energy. I bought a car, I learned about my enzyme (dis)functions and only a few weeks ago I finally got to grips with my life long insomnia.
I’m now at 30% activity level of a normal healthy person while I detox. I’m at a better level when I don’t.

Now I’ve got a plan for more healing in place.

I give it 5 years, at least, since I acquired this illness over a long period of time -even if the final straw in 2008 was a virus- and my body is fragile.
I’ve seen many people make a remarkable and fast recovery only to crash a few years later. Pacing myself is going to be the biggest challenge.


  • brush teeth every day (and evening)
  • keep the house a bit tidy (vacuum every week and pick up after myself)
  • work methylation protocol (with a break every few weeks)
  • aid digestion and detoxification (eat well, take hcl, lie down and take little walks)
  • organize nice clothes to wear (sew them, buy them, trade them, felt them)
  • enjoy the more supple body (take walks, dance while putting the kettle on, shower, lift weights perhaps)
  • lie down every day, enter into Parasympathetic mode.
  • pacing. Only two things can be done on a day. Also pacing through the year: especially in May/June, in September/October and in December.

These are all tailor made goals, specific for my situation.
And they all have greater significance than you’d think upon first glance.

For example, brushing the teeth before 2 o’clock in the afternoon will get rid of bacteria that are happily growing there and will become a burden to my body during the day. I have noticed. Brushing really helps my body, I get cranky otherwise. Yes, a brain chemistry symptom for not brushing teeth… I’m weird.
(I don’t need to brush for teeth health because my diet has no sugars in it, brushing and flossing once before I go to bed is enough to keep my teeth healthy. Your milage will vary because your diet is different, the make up of your saliva is different and you probably don’t think brushing teeth is any effort at all)

(if anybody is interested in the significance of the other goals, please let me know in the comments and I’ll write them out)

This post marks a point in time. I hope in a year I get to write another one.
I sure hope I remember to take things slowly, all through the year and avery day.
It is very tempting when you feel a bit better to bite off big chunks of life. But they won’t sit well in my tummy. Two things baby, two things a day.

Hurry slow.
pic by Michael & Christa Richert