Sketching my battle plans

As you might have noticed, I got into a redecorating mood again and gave RheumaBlog a new-ish look. This particular WordPress theme, Bloggy, will work better whether you’re reading this from your smartphone, your tablet, or your laptop or desktop computer. I figured I probably ought to bring RheumaBlog into the 21st Century, even if I had to do it kicking and screaming.


Illustration by Howard David Johnson

I’ve been skirmishing with the rheuma-dragon frequently these days. He tends to attack my hands and feet, for the most part. That damned dragon means to bring me to my knees.

I categorically refuse. I’m keeping my weapons sharp: three different DMARDs; the biologic Orencia, which I self-inject weekly; the nerve-pain medication gabapentin; Cymbalta, an anti-depressant indicated for chronic pain; an NSAID, and the usual vitamins and minerals. I’m also keeping an eye on my nutrition and portion-control; the gabapentin and Cymbalta have increased my appetite–an aggravating side-effect of both drugs–so I’ve gained weight, the very last thing I need.

My hands and wrists ache and twinge every day, but I’m still art-ing and still writing, but I’ve had to restrict the latter to writing articles for, a truly top-quality website that reaches thousands upon thousands of my fellow rheuma-dragon fighters. By doing that I’m saving my hands for my art, which I’m creating almost exclusively in a digital format, now.

I’ve found that sketching and painting via computer is a bit easier on my joints; I don’t need to use much pressure on the stylus, and my digital art program allows me to cover what would be large areas of paper or canvas with color without much effort. I’m still learning how to use this wonderfully magical new tool, but I’m having so much fun with it! Every day I learn something new about what the program–or “app,” which I think is the current correct name for it–can do. And by participating in the Twitter art challenges @AnimalAlphabets and @colour_collective, I never run out of things to draw and paint. Twitter has also introduced me to literally hundreds of my fellow artists/illustrators. I’m learning from them, as well, simply by looking at the wonderful work they post. And some of them have blogs or websites in which they actually teach. I’m an avid, hungry student!

I thought I’d share some of my recent digital artwork with you. And, while I’m not quite there yet, I hope to make some of it available for purchase one of these days soon. Prints, T-shirts, totes, mugs … we’ll see. I’m dreaming.

The art:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

5 thoughts on “Sketching my battle plans

  1. Great idea to move into digital art if it helps the joints a bit! Love the fesity little wren, and of course the feisty little penguin … oh, and the elephant. I do feel for the elephant … and like the elephant! 🙂


  2. Love the new look! (Of course, now I’m embarrassed because I haven’t updated mine in … how long? Your artwork has brightened my day! Hugs, friend.


  3. So nice to see a post from you. The drawings look great. Glad you found something that works for you and allows you to continue to tap your creativity. Try not to worry too much about the weight. I just read an article that said biological may cause weight gain. Seems like all the drugs that work cause weight gain. My thought has always been I would rather feel better and carry a few extra pounds than look thinner and feel terrible. Hope your meds give you some relief. I know the drawing does!.


  4. Wren – Long time, eh? Glad you’re still at it, and fighting the good fight. The new design looks great, too! (I had to log in to my WordPress account to post this, but I don’t actually use that site. I’m really at


  5. Digital art. What a great idea! So glad you are finding a way to keep doing what you enjoy.
    And sorry to hear your dragon is on the rampage 😦 Hang in there. (like the new look, too)


Comments are closed.