Arden Charles, a Guemes Island resident, artist and painter works from her beach studio that looks out over the water toward Jack Island and Mount Baker. She’s been inspired by the view since spending summers there in the 1970’s. “It’s inspirational to me just being there in that solitude,” says Arden.

It has been an ideal place to create narrative art and paintings that tell real and imagined stories, Arden’s passion and specialty. For at least eight years, she’s created watercolor images, collages, and other works in that studio. However, as time passed, Arden began to experience the soreness and pain that comes from arthritis in her shoulders,making it difficult to practice the art she loved. She approached her primary care provider to discuss the options to help relieve the pain.

With a degree in commercial art from the University of Washington, Arden began creating artwork while at her first job in 1961—a photo stylist in Seattle for a commercial photography studio. She collected items and artifacts for photo shoots that would help tell a story. Arden began using some of these pieces to create her own works and inspire art that told stories, both real and imagined.

She joined the Northwest Watercolor Society and was voted into Women Painters of Washington in 1997. She gained several opportunities to show some of her art in select Seattle galleries, including the Convention Center. After moving to Guemes Island in 2007, she was honored to be in a gallery show in Bow-Edison.

As the pain and soreness from arthritis increased, making it painful to paint, the time came to choose shoulder replacement. This surgery involves removing parts of the shoulder joint and replacing it with an artificial implant that mimics the joint with a ball, socket, and stem that extends into the top of the arm. The surgery relieves pain and helps restore motion and function of the shoulder.

With high hopes that surgery would relieve pain, she pursued the procedure on her right shoulder. Her experience at a Seattle hospital was less than satisfactory.

For her left shoulder replacement procedure, Arden opted to stay closer to home. She went to see Dr. Kenneth Oates at Skagit Northwest Orthopedics for a procedure at Island Hospital. Skagit Northwest Orthopedics is the primary orthopedic provider at Island Hospital. Dr. Oates felt that Arden was a perfect candidate for a procedure involving a new, more compact device for shoulder replacement. She would be the first person to receive this new device at Island Hospital.

Confident in Dr. Oates’ abilities, Arden decided to go forward with the procedure. “Dr. Oates was fabulous. He’s a perfectionist, and his positive attitude and excitement to try this device gave me confidence,” says Arden.

The surgery went smoothly, just as planned. Arden recovered quickly and appreciated the follow-up care and physical therapy that Dr. Oates had prescribed. After a swift and uneventful recovery, she’s returned to her passion and can again be found in the solitude of her studio, inspired by the views and stories.

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Published on May 28, 2021