Posted by: jeanne | December 12, 2008

cancerart 15


okay, i’ve sewn the bra on now. and i sewed the fabric strips in place. and tacked in a pleat halfway down the center of each strip. had to fold the rightmost strip in half to uncover the hand.

then what? i’m reconstructing, because a couple of days have passed, and i’m almost totally absorbed in grant applications which make you turn your life upside down and shake it.

so i have pictures i took from a more recent day’s work, and when i go downstairs i’ll have pictures to take of a still more recent day, and then there’s a lot of work i have to do today and i’ll have to take pictures of that as well, and that’s 3 more blog posts in the pipe.

so what did i do in this work session? i’m so distracted. i forget what i’ve had for lunch all the damn time, and constantly have to ask jim.


i sewed stitches on the c-section scar. i’m going to draw in the rest of the body so you can place the scar between the hipbones and pubic mound. it’s not puckery enough, and how do i convey the numbness i’ve not felt there since my kid was born, 20 years ago?

i took the pink thread and startedsewing the bra onto the canvas in large, deep stitches. i’ve got three levels of stitching going on here, like in an operation where they close the deep stuff with absorbable stitches, and then sew the stuff on top of that with light stitches, and then get a plastic surgeon in to make the surface stithces. for a c-section? i’m sorry, they don’t do that, and they don’t do it for a mastectomy, either. and i wonder why. it’s a trick i was taught when i was growing up – ask for a plastic surgeon to close up any wounds on the face.  i’ve got a tortured, lumpy and puckery scar that looks quite ghastly. my flesh spills out all over it. like man boobs.

when i passed the ribbon thru the bra, i made sure to catch both sides of the underwire sleeve, for the surest anchor. i tried to spread the ribbon out on the front side so that it would become decorative, but it twisted and looks very badly done. if i had time, and perhaps i will anyway, i’ll go back and resew it. the hard part’s done – driving a tapestry needle thru multiple layers of bra fabric requires a pair of pliers. there’s a permanent hole.

i’m reminded, while i put the first ribbon lines across the back of the breast form, of a spider web. only i’d be shamed by the comparison, because all my centers are off. a spider on acid, perhaps.

the last thing i did, that i remember, was to fix the bra on the front. i had a real problem, as you can see in the top picture, with the whiteness of the fabric. both the skirt and the bra made all the painted colors look way too dark. i was sitting there fantacizing all the lights i’d have to bring out on the skin and hair, in effect repainting the painting, or adding yet another layer to something i should have finished with. then jim came up and hd a look and suggested i thin out a little dark acrylic and dab it on the fabric with a brush. that way it wouldn’t stiffen the right side where the prosthesis goes. so i pulled the breastform out of the bra and mixed up some very watery gray and scrubbed it into the bra fabric on both sides (wherever the hair doesn’t cover). that toned the thing down wonderfully, and as you can see below, i’m not going to have to fuck with putting more layers on the skin. i can get to the back of it now, where i have all my statement things to make

and that’s difficult in itself. part of my time not painting has been sitting and thinking what i want to say on my painting. what’s my mission here?

well, my mission has ever been to tell people there is another way of doing whatever it is you’re contemplating. and that goes for getting cancer, and that goes for getting treatment as well, and fofr dying itself. there’s the scripted way, that everybody says is the right way, or even the only way, and there’s the way that little voice inside you whispers. and that can be very different. i’ll have to get to that post about the little voice, real soon now.  i’ll put it on the long finger.


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