Dear people,

The Scratchboard Comic is moving forward, albeit at a slower than usual pace. I am put on anti-inflammatory pills for the right hand since a week back, which will hopefully eventually turn it back to usual. In the meantime I’m drawing left-handed, but doing the text and the lines made with rulers with the right hand.

I had worked up quite a speed during the last pages before the hand gave up, which is becoming quite clear when comparing average hours-per-page and hours-per-panel. I rarely count the time, but a pretty fair estimate is that a regular panel takes about two hours to draw right-handed.

I have started to categorize my panels in terms of detail/difficulty, on a scale from 1 to 3. This categorization is based solely on feeling. Here are some examples:

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A category 1. Easy and simple. Probably takes between one and two hours (right-handed).

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A category 2. Some detail, some more elements. Probably around two and three hours (right-handed).

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A category 3. Lots of detail, usually a detailed background, usually elements requiring some form of research from photos etc.

I guess this panel would’ve taken around three to four hours to do right-handed, but I just spent around six and a half hour on this sucker, doing it somewhere around 10/90 right/left-handed. The straight lines made with rulers were done right-handed (I just can’t seem to work a ruler any other way), the drawing on the t-shirt as well, as well as some occasions where I felt like I needed extra precision.

Drawing left-handed, without the usual speed, I find that I draw a lot more category 3 panels. Sometimes I turn category 2’s into 3’s.

I keep marvelling at how adaptable the non-dominant hand is. I never would’ve imagined drawing left-handed would go so well. People express admiration for my advancements, when really they should be expressing admiration for the adaptability of the human body. After overcoming my pitiful state of woe during the first weeks of the left-handed exile, I started surfing around the web for accounts of people being forced to switch hands. I didn’t find much, the usual stupid quasi-scientific articles such as “10 excercises to become ambidextrous in just one month!” along with clinical accounts of amputees who could never play the violin again. I didn’t amputate my hand, so I felt stupid hanging around those places, as I felt they would be offended if some person ask them for advice being like “well, I didn’t lose my hand, but it hurts when I try to draw with it”. But, yeah, I did find this: http://www.johnnywander.com, a webcomic blog whose main artist suffered the same thing as I back in August 2012 (you can scroll back) and did some left-handed comics for a few weeks.

As for my earlier existential questions of where sense for art resides in a person, clearly there were enough of it in places other than my right hand to be able to get by without it. However, I do have to protest people saying that art is solely in the mind. It starts there, I guess, but if you can’t transcribe it into the material world, it’s something else. Isn’t that what art is? The translation between the inner and the outer? Thoughts, feeling and impressions translated into the material world? I guess I could express myself without my hands, too, but it would be hard having grown up with both of them, having put so many years into making them my main instruments. It would be like starting at zero. That is what I feared drawing left-handed would be like.

Well, time will tell how much deeper into this subject I’ll dive, given the recovery of my right hand. Sorry for this rant, people!

I’m back at base camp Skeppsholmen, Stockholm.

The hand is still fucked but tomorrow is hand doctor day! Exciting times! I’m putting my hopes on magic instant cures.

More exciting news:

The left-handed exile is becoming increasingly interesting as the days pass. My writing is still horrible:

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However the drawing is improving rapidly, beyond all expectations:

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Look at that thing! Not that it’s spectacular in itself, but knowing that it’s panel nr 6 that I’ve drawn left handed? It’s quite stunning how adaptable the human body and brain is.

This means that nothing stands between me and the finishing of this comic! Put my right hand in a cast for half a year; I’ll finish the damn thing just the same. Ha!

Also: I came home to the wood engraving tools I purchased online while bored and off watch a while back. It remains to be seen whether wood engraving can be done one handed, but there’s only one way to find out, I guess.

Current page count: 102 of 114

We are sailing towards Miami, last port of call for me before returning home in a week’s time.

Sometimes life gets the better of us, but if like me you’re lucky to be around fantastic friends and fellow watch leaders they will pick you up and make you see the good, less dramatic sides of things instead. In a better moodset, I re-ground the edge of my scratching tool to make it left-handed, and started drawing again. Here is the result. Interesting new territory to explore. I’m pretty proud of it, given the circumstances. Also it’s page one of PART TWO, which is of course endlessly exciting.

My sincerest thanks to all of you for supporting me through these one-handed times. It is so, so appreciated.

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Much love from a nav station on a ship in a sea full of Stellena Dolphins, and under a sky in which Sirius, the belt of Orion and Venus line up spectacularly and squalls light up the horizon as we speak. Meanwhile, yesterday I woke up from a very vivid dream about grocery shopping, to go meet my reality which is the deck of a square rigger. That’s how reversed my life is, and beautifully so.

Where does art exist? In your mind? What makes you an artist? The result of the equation that is the outside world, you (the artist), your body, the materials you choose. Take away any one, and you won’t have art.

What is an artist without her main instrument, without her hands? A nothing, a uselessness. An insulting shadow.

Left-handed exile

Dear people.

The latest non-news:

The right hand remains incapacitated. I have an appointment with a hand specialist in three weeks, the day after I set foot on Swedish soil again.

I’m trying to keep some sort of zen outlook on it all, that we are dealt the experiences we need, and that they stay for as long as we need them to teach us the lessons they are here to bring. What might it be? The lesson to slow down? To adress my inability to do anything in moderation? To read more books? (While under way with the ship, this is the one activity I am left with on my downtime. While in port at least I can add running, exploring and beer-drinking to the list.)

I dream about banjo playing and drawing every night. My mind is hopelessly short sighted and has a flair for the dramatic, “painting the devil on the wall” as the Swedish saying goes, and at times I despair, thinking I’ll never be able to draw or create anything ever again. Hopefully that’s just me being a big fucking baby.

Here is my current 5-year-old handwriting, writing out a recipe for vegan brownies, which took me about 10 minutes:

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Here is a drawing done with my left hand of the Magic Animal Being, whose hands have been incapacitated just like me. Luckily it doesn’t give a damn about such worthly concerns and limitations.

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