Wounded Sleep




Wounded Sleep is the only painting I’ve ever done with my left hand.  It was ten years ago, and my right arm was in a sling, recovering from rotator cuff surgery.   Even small movements that extended my arm forward were difficult.  I put pillows under my elbow, but still struggled to reach out with my paintbrush.

The day before the surgery, a friend brought me a preserved wild turkey wing.  “Here”, she said, “I hope this wing will help yours to heal.”  Indeed, the pain in my shoulder blade felt like a broken wing.

After the surgery, I was unable to sleep normally.  I lay fitfully in bed, my wounded arm propped up by pillows, my mind blurry from painkillers.  I dozed, floating in a twilight state between consciousness and sleep, until the pain pulled me to the surface again.

One night I dreamed I was floating in a dark vortex, carried along by a great force.  My wounded arm was bound to the turkey wing, as if it were a splint.  Cradled by the current, I found comfort in the movement that carried me.  And for the first time in days, I woke up feeling refreshed.

I decided to paint the image with my left hand.  Thus the crudeness of the brush strokes, and the simplicity of the composition.  My left hand could not articulate anything precise.  But for this image, the rawness of my left-handed strokes serve well.

A few years later, a textbook publisher contacted me, wanting to license Wounded Sleep for use as the opening illustration of a chapter on Native American culture.  My painting looks like an illustration of a shamanic vision, I was told.  The thought bemused me, for who could say the wild turkey hadn’t spoken to me as a totem animal speaks to a Lakota or Iroquois?  I granted permission . . . and unexpectedly earned a little money off my sole left-handed work of art.

Order Wounded Sleep as a POSTER this week, and get a free greeting card (of the same image)!   $10 for the poster and card, shipping included.  Order your poster here.  Your can also order a six-pack of cards (normally $3.50 each) for $18.  Order greeting cards by filling in the title here.

A good week to all!

D Yael Bernhard
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVENew!! Explore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!


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