It’s been a turbulent few weeks, so I’ve not painted much.

Spoiler alert: this story does have a happy ending. Some of you may know I was diagnosed with cancer in July. I had a rare malignant tumor in my ear canal. After 2 painful operations–one that completely reconstructed my canal–I was told I still wasn’t in the clear. If you’ve gone through something like this, you know how it can make you re-assess life and your priorities. In fact, a similar health scare in 2000 is what propelled me into art. Without a clear end, I decided to get a third opinion, Dr. Jack Resneck at UCSF. In our first meeting I formed an opinion of him as a careful, thoughtful doctor. He believed the diagnosis was rare enough that a re-test of all my biopsies and tumor were in order. I got the good news the week before Thanksgiving: I didn’t have cancer! The growth was benign. I was relieved and pissed off at the same time, but thankful in the end that the treatment could end and I don’t have to worry about it. I’ve lost a bit of hearing in that ear, and have some scars, but I’ll take that over the alternative.

An hour after I got the good news (while at work) that my tumor was benign, I got a call from my husband, Mike: his mother was dying. Talk about a roller-coaster. We both left work right away, and we made it to her bedside less than 24 hours before she passed. It was very sad, but she’d been suffering for some time, and was ready. She was really terrific. We’ll miss her.

Amy Estrada, 1929-2009
Amy Estrada, 1929-2009

And yes, there is finally a painting. I’m trying to get life back to normal.

This was done from a reference photo of Avila Beach, while I was there painting for San Luis Obispo Plein Air this year. The “golden hour” light was striking the rocks like fire. It was quite a site. Enjoy!

Cliffs at Avila Beach (Golden Hour), Oil on Canvas, 8x10
Cliffs at Avila Beach (Golden Hour), Oil on Canvas, 8x10


12 thoughts on “Turbulent Times

  1. Am very relieved to hear that you ducked this one, Ed. You are sure correct about assessing life’s priorities. This good news should make for a very happy holiday season.

    Condolences to Mike re his mom.

  2. Wow. Turbulence indeed, but somehow this painting shows the light and hope that are still there shining through. I love your wonderful patchwork rainbow of colors and amazing brushwork in this painting. The pose or gesture of this beautiful rock seems to be a mirror image of the photo of you at the top of your blog, looking up into the sunlight with joy and hope.

    When you photograph your paintings you do a really good job of avoiding glare while still showing very detailed texture. Would you be willing to share your photography secrets?

    • Thanks, Jana. My photography secrets: I usually photograph near an outside window, but avoiding direct sunlight. Actually, most of my work (9×12 and smaller) are digitally scanned. These are very accurate images. This one is too wet to scan, so I photographed it near a window, then adjusted the temperature and other properties on my Mac. I don’t know if I have any real secrets. And actually, I’d check Mike Bailey’s blog, the commenter below. I recall he wrote a nice post about his photographic set up. It’s quite good.

  3. Beautiful painting, beautiful photo of Amy EStrada! The juxtaposition of joy at your clear diagnosis, and sorry at the loss of Amy must be difficult. Art is a refuge. A place of healing, as evidenced by the radiance in that landscape! Best to you!

  4. Ed,
    Sorry you have been on an emotional roller-coaster. Please give my regards to Mike. It’s very hard to lose a parent because we no matter how old or infirmed they might be we see their face and hear their voice and remember the person they were decades before.

    I watched the movie “Henry Poole is Here” last night and it offered some terrific insights into the issues associated with life and death. Henry was misdiagnosed with a terminal illness, moved back to his childhood neighborhood, and got a new sense of purpose from his caring neighbors. To paraphrase Tennessee Williams, we all depend on the kindness of strangers.

    Kip Forbes and I are organizing a painting event at his estate in New Jersey over a weekend in April. Why don’t you come east and join us? It would be great to finally meet and paint together.

    • Thanks, Steve. I saw the Henry Poole movie last month–definitely see the point.

      Would love to paint at Forbes’ this April. Thanks so much for the invitation. 2010 is going to be a great year!

  5. Hi Ed,

    It been ages since I have been on your blog…wow thats quite a story.

    Also, because I read quite quickly when browsing…I misread your spoiler to say this Dosent have a happy ending! Which made it even more of a relief to hear the positive outcome.

    Cant imagine how this must have felt…sounds terrifying!

    Must be amazing to get the all clear!….give you a new lease of life!…looking forward to seeing some painting now you can relax!


  6. Dottie Bassett says:

    Hi Ed, Fabulous News!
    Big Deep Breath then Laughter!
    I am so sorry for the loss of Mike’s Mother.
    I am the wife of a huge {given 19 days to live 24 years ago) Non Hogkins survior!
    I am a Winston Churchill fan. My favorite- “Never Never Never Quit”.
    Now may the New Year be filled with your beautiful work!

  7. golly Ed – worrying & turbulent indeed!

    glad that u r OK ­čÖé hope that u get back on even keel & find your brushes again.

    regards to Mike, bonne courage

    best for 2010

  8. Hi Ed,
    I’m glad you had a good outcome with your health! That must have been a frightening and stressful situation. Having been through something similar, I know what you mean about getting your priorities in order.
    Please give my condolences to your husband-losing a parent is a hard thing to go through. I hope the rest of this year brings good things for both of you!

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