Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"The artist is unknown...imagine that..."

Expecting a furniture delivery on July 2nd, I'd finally admitted defeat and called in professional painters. It wasn't begrudgingly, it was with a sense of relief and even wonder. One day to paint the large family room/kitchen area? Was that even possible? Did they have magic elves stuffed into their pockets? Or when you do something for a living, perhaps you simply are very good at it. That makes sense, doesn't it?

I've been painting, and then painting some more. Just wall, some trim. I don't really have a talent for painting, but in a pinch, I can do a respectable job. When I wasn't painting, I was cleaning. My brain moved into small circles, always pursuing the next thing I had to do, never fully concentrating on the current one. When your lists exceed your time, that's what happens. Even in the midst of doing something, your mind is busily engaged in the next activity.

"You're sure?" Nick, the very professional painter, who had shown up on time to do his estimate, said haltingly.

"Yes, absolutely." I replied, continuing to stare at the paint chip entitled "crocus", such a nice word, sounds a bit like a cross between a frog and a flower. Lovely shade of lilac, though. Besides, who doesn't like to think of a purple frog?

Then my mind moved to the next thing, "You see, I've got all of the artwork I want for this room and this will set it off well." and I began to show him. The picture of the cotillion I'd picked up in Vancouver. A lovely black and white photograph of dancers caught in motion. An Edward Hopper, I've always loved Hopper. An Emily Carr, the title of which escaped me, but it was of a tiny white church, in amongst the trees. Then I showed him the painting of the Indian Elephants. "Then there's this..." I hesitated.

He was being polite. Making the right sounds, after all, the job was a fairly large one. The quote over six hundred dollars. Not a bad haul for five hours of work. "This one...", the two elephants meeting, almost at a T-junction, and my voice trailed off.

"This...?" He asked with that marked courtesy. The thing that landed him jobs in this suburb. Being polite, being well dressed, in truth, being a very hard worker, and a good businessman. The pomp and circumstance he had to put on to get the jobs he would do so well.

"The artist is unknown." I said, and wondered. Such a lovely painting. Such a gift to others. Something to which I would turn to brighten our space, and set our imaginations free. "Imagine that."

Later, after the work was done, after the pictures were hung my husband looked at the clean lines surrounding the windows, the precision cuts over the cabinets. "I love it." He declared loyally, "It's so good to be rid of that seasick green!"

My husband is a good and tolerant man. He's learned to live with my love of color.

"I like it, too." I said, and glanced at the Indian print. "And the artist is unknown...imagine that."

My husband didn't notice what I'd said, he was busy examining the precision brush work.

I was busy looking at the painting entitled simply Indian Elephants II. I couldn't create that painting, not if I studied and practiced for years. I don't have that talent. This person, this painter, gave me something and I don't even know his or her name.

We hesitate to say good things, fearing what fate it will bring down upon us. That's what I think, at least. We'll tell someone, "Oh, I love that blouse!" before we'll say, "You know, you're a very kind person."

I went to the painter's website, the man who showed up on time, and did such clean work, and I left glowing comments in the testimonials section. All the while, I wondered who painted my elephants, those cheerful creatures that brighten my day, against my crocus walls.


Jo said...

The lilac color is absolutely beautiful, and I can see how it would set off your paintings wonderfully.

The Emily Carr painting you are referring to is called "Indian Church" and it was painted in 1929. Emily Carr was my father's favorite painter. I love Edward Hopper, and I have a print of "Chop Suey".

You have an incredible blog! Oh, by the way, I watched a documentary on the Winchester House, and it was absolutely fascinating.

Land of shimp said...

Thank you, Jo! Both for the information on Emily Carr, and the settings for comments. I took your advice on that, by the way.

Emily Carr was a truly fascinating woman, and a marvelous painter. I've long admired her, and her work.

Chop Suey hangs above our mantle, and Nighthawks in our hallway. I've a great fondness for Hopper's work, even if I find less to admire about him personally, he was a true gift to the art world.

Poor Sarah Winchester, she was such a tormented woman, but she left behind a truly fascinating house.