Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

April 21, 2022

Struck down in my dotage.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rob Adams @ 11:07 pm

I was near the point of congratulating myself about not having died in the pandemic so far when I woke up in the morning with only half a face. My immediate conclusion was that I might have had a stroke. The feeling is a bit like when you have been to the dentist and half your mouth is rubbery and you dribble when you eat soup. I was whisked off to Dorchester hospital to be probed. 7 hours later with the probing over they said that I probably had had a stroke, then they threw me out on the street in the dark with no coat 20 miles from home.

Over the next few days I had brain scans, I passed that one, many friends were surprised but there was indeed one there. Xrays I passed that too I had all the approved giblets in position and all working. I was covid free and despite my somewhat easy going attitude to proper diet and exercise was in good shape for my age. They rowed back on the stroke diagnosis and demoted me to being a patient with an ailment called Bell’s Palsy, then they gave me a course of steroids and told me to go away and not come back. Having researched my own ailment I discovered I had a damaged 7th cranial nerve, which controls the muscles in half of my face. It took some getting used to. One eye didn’t blink anymore so I had to tape it shut or it would dry up.

My research assured me that I would mostly recover in about 7 months. Meanwhile a big downside was I was no longer able to play the flute, a minor upside was that I could now do very good Winston Churchill impressions. I was also a shoe in for the role of Quasimodo. Painting with one eye was I found very tricky, you need two to judge distance so I was now unsure as to exactly when my brush would impact on the painting surface.

Here is my first one eyed plein air. I had hoped that my suffering would bring new depth and pathos to my work, but instead it looked much like the two eyed painting had. Near Shillingstone 10in by 7.5in. Oils.

The obvious painting to get out of the way was the afflicted self portrait. I did this the day after but I should have waited a few days as my face grew more lopsided as time passed. 8in by 10in. Oils.

More one eyed plein air. Another difficulty was that it was now hard to walk up steep cliff paths without falling over due to my judgement of distance being unreliable. This is Anvil Head near Durleston. 10in sq Oils.

View from Durleston, I sported a piratical eye patch as the wind was extremely painful on my unblinking eye. I was also quieter than usual as I could not pronounce P’s B’s F’s or M’s which limited the subjects I could be boring about. 12in by 6in Oils.

Getting used to the one eyed thing now. I found if I blocked in with one eye I could do a brief two eyed stint at the end to finish off. Child Okeford 14in by 10in Oils.

My eye showed slow improvement and I was getting better at managing it so this is a mostly two eyed effort. Hambledon Hill. 10in by 5in Oils.

I am slowly improving now. So I set about getting a few studio paintings done. This is the Stour near Shillingstone. 16in by 8in Oils.

The pinnacles from Old Harry, I did a plein air of this but I didn’t have the right shaped board with me so I re-did it in the studio. That annoying thing happened where the light dramatically improves as you are working, you can’t really chase the light so it is easier to do another in the studio. 16in by 10in Oils.

This one of Kimmeridge was a bit of a race as the light was moving very fast. You just have to forget any finesse and bodge it in. 10in sq Oils.

Studland bay I like the low light this time of year it makes even simple subjects interesting to paint. 14in by 10in Oils.

That is it for catch ups, back to writing about Art and less about me.


  1. Rob,
    So glad you are improving and sorry you have been suffering. You paintings are amazing and so beautiful.
    Sending you healing energy.

    Comment by Elga Dzirkalis — April 22, 2022 @ 12:33 am

  2. Hi Rob, I have followed your painting journey for years, am enjoying the more abstract nature of this recent work. I am glad you are persisting with your painting, it is hard after a health blow to get back to it, and a good lesson to me. I have leukemia and I have been having difficulty focusing, but you are inspiring!

    Comment by Lynn Macintyre — April 22, 2022 @ 3:07 pm

  3. Hi Lynn, any illness has a tendency to take over your life, though what I had was more of an ailment than an illness, from my experiences with pneumonia I know that I cannot paint when I feel ill, I lie on the sofa feel very sorry for myself and read bad novels!

    Comment by Rob Adams — April 22, 2022 @ 3:37 pm

  4. Good Grief, Rob, this is very scary stuff. What an awful experience. My wife’s mother had Bell’s Palsy, and it does get better with time. Thank God you were still able to get out and paint, and it obviously hasn’t affected your ability. I particularly like the Shillingstone and Old Harry pieces. I admire your skill with water.

    I can sympathise with your irritation at the light changing. I eventually found this such a problem that I now paint from photographic reference. Of course it’s a very different experience from plein air painting, but I found that if I took multiple images on site, slightly different viewpoints and exposures, it gave me enough information to avoid the painting getting too stilted.

    I hope you continue to recover and that your eye gets less painful. And that you can eventually get back to playing your flute and whistles. Otherwise, you’ll have to take up the banjo, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

    All the very best,

    Comment by Martin Harris — April 24, 2022 @ 11:46 am

  5. I had Bell’s palsy twice and fully recovered both times, once in college and once in graduate school. As I understand it, the tunnel where the facial nerve passes though your skull is a little bit small and if you get a virus infection (like a cold in that nerve) that swells up the nerve, it gets choked off, whereas other persons would be relatively unaffected. And the steroids can make you loopy. Facial expressions are really important to social interaction, so feeling handicapped with your face is especially difficult, and taking steroids can make that even worse. Suggestion -> most important for sanity is significant other support.

    Comment by Lawrence Furnival — May 8, 2022 @ 8:59 pm

  6. Good to know about the recovery thing… I didn’t find the expression thing worrying really and I loved the steroids, they make you really appreciate your dinner! Didn’t really effect my sanity as I’m not sure what that is.

    Comment by Rob Adams — May 8, 2022 @ 11:28 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress

error: Content is protected !!