Pain and Painting Black Figurines

Chronic Pain Memories

When I returned to Wisconsin for the Thanksgiving Holiday, this past year, I did more than spend quality time with family and friends.

I, also, reconnected with memories created more than twenty years ago.  Fond memories of struggling through the early years of a chronic pain condition.

As shared in earlier posts, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 1993.  The daily, excruciating pain associated with this condition forced me to take a six-month medical leave from my dream job, which eventually led to a resignation for medical reasons.

Because of the severe joint degeneration in my hands, I lost the ability to do even simple self-care tasks e.g., buttoning my blouse, tying my shoes, putting on a bra, or even combing my hair.  In addition to working full-time, Hubby served as my primary caregiver.  That is one of many reasons why I have kept him around for almost fifty-five years.

Chronic Pain Management:  Painting Black Figurines

Approximately four months after the diagnosis, things changed.  It started, when I opened the huge box sent by the Eldest Daughter from North Carolina where she was living at the time. Inside were bottles of acrylic paint in an array of colors as well as a number of unpainted figurines.

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I called her and said, “Thank you for the gift, but What The H… am I suppose to do with these things?”

“Painting may give you some pain relief as well as strengthen your hands.  Give it a try.” she said.

I tried and the first pieces were a disaster. But, I painted figurines almost everyday from 1993 until 1996.  The painting improved.  But, more importantly, the joints strengthened and the pain lessened.

Daily, for almost three years, I painted figurines depicting African-Americans in different roles — babies, clowns, children, angels, baseball players, basketball players, sorority girls, fraternity boys, historical figures, Buffalo Soldiers, doctors, nurses, etc.

After a while, the pieces went on display in the African-American Art Gallery that we formerly owned. They were quick sellers, especially the Santa’s and Angels.

I painted under the pseudonym, Marie Enno, which I took from the last four letters, spelled backwards, of my first name “Yvonne”; and, my middle name “Marie.”  A number of close friends and relatives purchased the figurines.  However, they had no idea that Yvonne Marie and Marie Enno were one in the same.

Painting the figurines distracted me from focusing on pain.  I know painting was the beginning of my journey:

  • from the non-productive invalid stage of chronic pain
  • to the productive and active lifestyle I continue to enjoy at the seasoned age of 73.

Yes, I still have pain but I work to control it rather than letting it control me.

Thanksgiving with The Black Santa’s

With the exception of the Santa’s shown in this post, all the figurines were either sold at the gallery or gifted to friends.

When the family Christmas Gatherings, outgrew the space in our home, the Eldest Daughter said, “Let’s move the Santa’s to my home so we can continue to enjoy them.”  I agreed and visited my Santa’s at her house every Christmas Holiday until retirement brought us to Florida in 2010.

Though everybody now comes to Florida for Christmas, Eldest Daughter wants to keep the Santa’s.  Since they have been in her possession for more than ten years, I believe her home is now their home.

This year, for the first time, she decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving; and, I was able to once again enjoy my beloved Santa’s.  She will continue to do this in the future; and I look forward to visiting with my Santa’s every Thanksgiving.

I added the photos below to my Cherished Memories Album. I can now enjoy looking at them when I want.

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Author: SeasonedSistah2

During this final season life, I am going on a journey to define "ME." Opening up and going outside of my comfort zone to redefine ME.. Exploring and pursuing new interests that will lead to personal happiness, serenity, and tranquility. In undertaking this mission, overcoming the FEAR is my greatest challenge. Fear has played a large role in my life, but I overcame the FEAR of breast cancer, chronic pain associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and Sleep Apnea. My new mantra: FEAR has two meanings: "(1) Forget Everything And Run, or (2) Face Everything and Rise. The Choice is Mine." Blogging here I come ready or not!!!

21 thoughts on “Pain and Painting Black Figurines”

  1. Thank you for sharing this “… I still have pain but I work to control it rather than letting it control me.” – Attitude I aspire to in order to deal with issues that keep me awake.

    Great job with black Santa, look amazing.


  2. Oh these are just great, I would love to do something like this , there so pretty also; it is just so nice that your daughter had the idea of sending you those paints , I am sure the first few times must have been painful for you using your hands but the fact that as time passed you felt the strength return to your hands is a valuable lesson to the reader in that using the joints helped to strengthen them on the longer run , suppose a lot of things are like this and calls to mind that phrase ‘ use it or you lose it ‘ , which reminds me to go get my boots on and go for a walk as I am getting very lazy lately you know , so your post has done me good in more ways than one . lots of good wishes to you and your loved ones and so glad that your health is now in top shape . Kathy.


  3. These statues are amazing Yvonne. I started getting teary just gazing at them. You, your attitudes, and your skill are astounding.

    And you sure know how to draw a reader in. You said “I, also, reconnected with memories created more than twenty years ago. Fond memories of struggling through the early years of a chronic pain condition.” How could those memories be labeled “fond”? I definitely wanted to know more.


  4. As you know i understand what it feels like to live with daily pain, but like you i try not to give up even if i have to give in for a little while. I got my hands back to some kind of order by knitting tiny premature baby clothes for the local hospital. First little bootees one or two lines at a time and then on and on until they were finished. I love the black Santa’s and i can understand why others would want to own them too.


  5. I have over 1000 pecanshell figurines blacks,Santa,bears,rabbits,other animals,etc. I have large selection that have been in storage, I have both painted and unpainted I would like to sell all of them either as one sale or large lots. I can give great prices for pieces that you cannot find now. This is from business that was started in 1985


  6. I thought I had commented on this…WOW! After I saw the pixs and read through, my admiration for you went to another level. The figurines are very lovely and I wish I had some here with me :). Well done Ma’am.
    Thinking about it, you brought something beautiful out of your pain and its packed with history. Hugs.


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