After a long hospital stay, one anticipates the arrival of a loved one back home. I couldn’t think of a subtle way to represent this so I opted for the obvious, as corny as it is. Home is certainly where the heart belongs.

So be it.

Watercolor: Abstract Expressionism

Home From Hospital
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Caregiver’s Much Needed Rest

Caregiving is hard work.  I saw it first hand when I was growing up with my older brother Mike. He is autistic, low functioning and nonverbal. He needed help with everything and had to be watched constantly. If you weren’t careful, he would take the food from your plate.

However, there is a difference between taking caring of someone who has never been able to care for himself and caring for a vital person who suddenly is in great jeopardy and becomes helpless.

In all cases, there is a point of exhaustion that each caregiver experiences.

The portrait below represents a caregiver getting a much needed rest.

Watercolor: Abstract Portrait

Caregiver Resting
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

After and Before

More about Radiation

I thought I would try redeeming myself from yesterday’s portrait. Today’s ‘After and Before’ refers the the effects after and before (reading the portrait left to right) radiation to the entire brain.

Of course the treatment is supposed to kill cancer cells, while leaving the non-cancerous cells alone. The bad thing is, the body’s immune system rushes to defend against the radiation, and causes swelling – not only inside the brain, which is a real problem – but of the face as well. Anti-inflammatories must be administered because, when the brain swells, encased as it is in the non-expandable skull, additional damage may occur.

Hopefully, after radiation treatment, all faculties that have been compromised get back to normal. I’m not sure that is true in all cases, however.  More hopefully, the radiation will kill off the cancer cells for good.

Watercolor: Portrait Before and After Radiation

After and Before


The portrait below is not what I hoped it would be. It is indeed quick and dirty, but it represents the aftermath of whole-brain radiation.

There is some planning that goes into focusing the radiation beam, but it is not a surgically precise procedure. Redness, swelling, sweating and tiredness are part of the effects.

Watercolor: Portrait Grotesque

Post Radiation Portrait
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Palliative Care – Dream

Yesterday I expressed my difficulties dealing with decisions that must be made when one prepares an advanced healthcare directive.

I saw this sign in the hospital today.

Photograph: Hospital 'This Way Out' Sign

I wish it were that easy.

Palliative Care

We met with the palliative care folks today. They talked a lot about the Advanced Healthcare Directive. The gist of it is, you can change your mind at any point, but if you have decided, for example, that you don’t want to be revived, you put it in your directive, if you become unconscious, your loved ones can just hold it up to the paramedics and say, “No sir, no CPR for him.” If at some point, you change your mind and you would like the paramedics to give you CPR, you must change the directive before you get unconscious.

This is only one of the tough decisions that make up an advanced directive. It is a much bigger task if you have a hard time making decisions and don’t even know your wishes.  Maybe I just don’t understand the concept of wishes in the context of dying. Because if I had a wish, I would probably wish not to die, not how to die.  I know I’m avoiding the issue, but I have adolescent tendencies even though I’m just past middle age (given old age ends at 120).

One of the arguments in favor of writing a directive in advance and sharing it with those you love is that it takes the pressure away from them. Ok… I’m closer to making one. But I still haven’t decided about my advanced wishes.

Below is a portrait of an imaginary person who does have an advanced directive. I tried to make the eye look upward, but it ended up just looking calm.  The mouth on the other hand doesn’t know what’s going on, and is scared.

Watercolor: Abstract Face Portrait

Palliative Care Portrait
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Brain Cancer

Not too bad at the beginning. Lung cancer routinely spreads to the brain. Symptoms creep up slowly. A little more weakness on the right side, inability to get the words out, a bit more incoordination. Falling. Then the medical imaging confirms the spread.

Most of us can touch our noses with our finger with our eyes closed. There are circuits in the brain that work together to allow that to happen.  It doesn’t happen if they are disrupted. Cancer disrupts.

My study below is an attempt to represent ravages of the brain and its consequences: weakness on one side and problems with coordination.  My representation of the brain is two different views pasted together: a horizontal section of the cerebrum (from the eyebrows to the back of the head) and a vertical section of the brain stem (a plane parallel to one that passes from ear to ear).

Watercolor: Horizontal and Frontal Brain Section

Neuro Exam
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

I allow my compositions to rest for a while and revisit them later. It was only after a second look did I realize that it was very much like one of the compositions supervised by Vesalius, a 16th century anatomist and physician.

Vesalius Brain Illustration

From Vesalius

The image above is not the one I remember, but the only one I could find on the spur of the moment.




Yet another day in thrall of medical services.

Successful visit to radiation therapy ended in a fall at home. A previous sprain, the cause of an earlier emergency room (ER) visit, is now a fracture. Yet another ambulance trip to the ER.

The curves in the study below are fractured by fault lines. Everything is falling apart.

Watercolor: Abstract - Broken Forms

12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Shapes – Follow Up

It is really hard to guide a pencil point along a simple contour that represents what one’s mind sees. The studies below are an extension of yesterday’s study of shapes.

In my first drawing I used ovals to draw a complete figure.

Drawing: Figure 1 in Position for Medicine Administration

Figure 1
9″x12″ 90# Drawing Paper

I used two lines for the sketch below. The subject is the same as above.

Drawing: Figure 2 in Position for Medicine Administration

Figure 2
9″x12″ 90# Drawing Paper

It took me a while to come up with the figure below. I used six lines, but the form is a simple one.

Drawing: Figure 3 in Position for Medicine Administration

Figure 3
12″x9″ 90# Drawing Paper

These sketches relate to my current experiences with illness the lack of dignity.


Emergency Room again today.  Not sure how the shapes below relate to the visit, but this is my art at the end of the day. Here is my own word cloud for this study: body shapes, disproportionate, disconnected, big head, keeping it together, tension, relaxed, empty, full, what is wrong.

Watercolor : Flesh-Colored Shapes with White Background

12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

After cropping this image in Photoshop, I wanted to see the result of applying automatic tone adjustment to my composition. I was surprised at the outcome, which seemed to bring the forms to life.

Watercolor : Flesh-Colored Shapes with Green-White Background

Shapes with Automatic Tone Adjustment

It would be worth my while to continue working on this collection of shapes. Perhaps I should begin a series of compositions in this vein.


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