I know I have successfully placed an IV when a “flash” of blood, visible in the clear plastic introducer of the angiocath, verifies that the catheter is in the vein and not soft tissue. Entering the vein with a needle is accompanied by the sensation of a pop, which is so distinct that often the patient himself will tell me, “You’re in, I feel it.”
There’s seldom any blood letting when I make art (sometimes there is), but I bring the same sense of focus to both the IV procedure and the art process. I know a work is complete when I feel a sense of conviction about the choices I made. Once, in a critique, the painting I presented was torn apart by the group. I was told to take out the blue, change the red; nothing worked. A few weeks later, a member of the critique saw the painting again, and remarked, “You didn’t make any of the changes we suggested, have you?” I hadn’t. It turned out to be my best received painting to date, and I sold it.
In nursing, this sense of conviction is called trusting your gut. During the twenty-two years I’ve been a nurse, it has served my patients and I well, particularly on the few occasions I’ve challenged an order by a doctor.
As I write these last few sentences, I realize that what I want to achieve in the words I write or the images I make is this sense of dynamic conviction, not an absolute or static truth. Appreciation comes when my reader or viewer comments, “You’re in, I feel it.”