Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Doorways of France I, watercolor on paper, 8x10, copyright Erin Rogers Pickering

I've always had a thing for doorways... I like to draw them, photograph them, wondering what lays inside and they have played heavily in my dreams and nightmares.

Especially my nigtmares... There was a time I had so many 'door' nightmares that it inspired me to quit the job I had at the time. After months & months of similar nightmares they abruptly ceased when I gave notice.

Doorways hold a significant place in fairytales and fables representing entering the psyche. 
They are all over frequently used expessions... The eyes are the doorway to the soul; When opportunity knocks be sure to open the door; Shutting the door on the past; A foot in the door; Katy bar the door; Beating a path to your door.

I met my husband by opening the door both literally & figuratively. So quite appropriately we used one of my doorway paintings as the cover of his book, Patches of Grey.
You are never quite sure what you will find when entering a door but the outside sometimes shows a suggestion of what you will find within. Sometimes there are surprises. 

On April 17 2008 I stepped through the gluten-free doorway (well, actually I probably crawled through). I found a whole new world within myself and in my surroundings. It is an amazingly beautiful place to have ended up. Believing I was entering a place of limits - never imagining it would be filled with unlimited possibilities. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Facing Challenges

watercolor on paper, 8x10, copyright Erin Rogers Pickering

Recently a friend asked if I would do a portrait of the beloved family dog that they had while she was growing up, as an anniversary gift for her parents. I love her - and her parents - so agreed immediatetly.

Then, I got the photo of the dog. Yikes. Just one reference photo, an all black dog in shadow! With obviously no chance of seeing the dog myself. It was way more than I bargained for --- and was not at all sure how to proceed.

First, I avoided. Then panicked. Then avoided again. Then dipped my toes in by doing the initial sketches and congratulated myself on progress. Yeah right. The drawing was the easy part and I knew it. I also knew come hell or high water I was going to complete this painting. I can be very stubborn.

So I did some research on painting black fur, and looked at dozens and dozens of photos of black dogs, and truly examined the photo I was given.

And inch by inch I made progress. At times difficult, other times fun, frustrating, informative, experimental, but it pushed me to try. And to try. And by trying I learned and I grew and found I could do it - and succeed.

So like my challenge of going, and staying, safely gluten free. Easy enough to agree to, but a huge learning curve... avoidance, research reseach and more research, days of discouragment and accomplishment, days I saw my health improving rapidly, along with those of backsliding. And I continued and pushed and grew... And along the way became a baker, a blogger, a supporter, a resource, an advocate, and a painter of black fur! (and let's not forget - healthy!)

My friend loved the painting, and during our visit we discussed celiac disease and it's many manifestations. She had many questions for me, and was calling her doctor the next day to get tested. On the drive home I realized these challenges really did go hand in hand.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Mother's Day Wish

  "Door to Granny's Cottage" acrylic on canvas, 5x7, copyright Erin Rogers Pickering
When I was a child both of my Grandmother's had cottages in beach communities. I absolutely loved visiting them. I adored the freedom of the indoor and outdoor blending together... Early morning walks, evenings on the porch or in the yard, kids free to roam, screen door banging as we ran in and out. I was inspired by those memories to create this painting, and enjoyed the thoughts of my grandmothers and mother as I painted.

I think of my mother and grandmothers often, and always feel their absence on mother's day. I lost my mother and maternal grandmother to stomach cancer. My Grandmother was 64, my Mother was just 48.  Did they have celiac disease?  We will never know, but it is my guess.

My Mother's Day wish is for greater awareness and understanding of celiac disease in the general population - AND in the medical community.  So every mother (and anyone who has a mother) can live a long, joyful, healthy, vibrant life. 

Happy Mother's Day to all!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Art and healing

"Iris" watercolor on Darches paper, copyright Erin Rogers Pickering

I guess it's not that surprising but the more I heal, the more energy I have so the more I paint. By late fall last year I was really starting to feel the change so took a leap and opened a shop on Etsy. If I was painting again, I might as well put it out there for the world to see.

And, they came looking. I have been featured in a variety of places recently and found out yesterday that my Iris print is the Etsy Item of the Day today and featured on the blog of the same name. I am honored to have had my work chosen.

Coming back to my art, and being able to enjoy - & keep up with - my daughter, have been the two greatest gifts of living gluten free.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dry Eyes

"Close Enough - Tiger" ink on paper, copyright Erin Rogers Pickering

Last week I went for my yearly eye check; to get my perscription tweaked and order new lenses. My Doctor commented immediately that my eyes didn't seem nearly as dry as past visits. I wear gas permemable (hard) lenses.
Last year he gave me a prescription to help my tear ducts produce more tears as the situtation was getting worse and worse and I was having trouble wetting my lenses. It was right about the time I went gluten-free. On a lark I googled dry eyes and auto-immune conditions. And what do you know? Sjorgens described me to a tee.

I put the presription aside and rolled the dice... I was betting the removal of gluten was going to improve the situatuon. Guess what?

After telling him I chose not to take the meds he asked if I was doing anything diffferent. "I went gluten-free... Celiac is an auto immume disease and so is sjorgens". Doc said keep it up - will be interesting to see if it continues to improve.

Yes it will. The changes and improvements keep coming and keep surprising me.

Monday, May 4, 2009


                 "Fresh Brewed", ink & watercolor on paper, copyright Erin Rogers Pickering
I haven't written in a few weeks because I have been battling with cross-contamination and accidental gluten, on more than one occasion. It has been a struggle but am now almost a week without problems so my head is clearer, I've learned a few things and we are making some changes at home.

We have been keeping separate toasters, cooking utensils, cutting boards, etc but still seemed to be running into problems. Last night we made the decision to keep the house totally gluten free. So the kitchen will really be a safe zone for me.

I also learned the difference between getting glutened and eating something that I may have an allergy or sensitivity to... Both make me feel awful, and set off similar digestive problems but unless I consume gluten there is no migraine. This is big. It will help me to fine tune my diet. Unfortunately, my beloved strawberries (and possibly bluberries) sit on the sensitivity/possible allergy list. Who knows, maybe in another 6 - 12 months, as the healing continues I will be able to eat them again. In the meantime I see this as a positive.

I had a difficult time focusing on the positive over the last few weeks and made a real effort to keep repeating my personal statement "I am gluten free, therefore I can..." And revisitng my list of improvements in the last year, a list that does continue to grow. I know that even with setbacks I am much much better off then I was only a year ago.