Monday, April 13, 2009

Remembering How I Came To Be, Part Two

I rented a small room in the centre of my brother's house as a studio. The room was so narrow, I could paint only one large work at a time in it.
My brother, a house-painter, tried to show me how to use enamel. As usual I was impatient and only half-listened. I wrecked the first few canvases by not letting each coat dry properly. The heavy paint slid like mud down the surface, trailing gelatinous, lumpy streaks. As it dried, it puckered into deep wrinkles. I called the paint manufacturer's technical department. They gave me the same advice my brother had.
When the work was finished, there was no space to step back and look at it properly, let alone photograph it.
I bought an instant camera and filled every frame of 35mm colour negative film with close-ups. I pressed myself against the wall opposite the painting then, beginning at the top left-hand corner, I photographed it in sections. Snapping a shot, taking a step right, snapping a shot again, shuffling left and starting again, crouching a little lower – I repeated this process until I reached the bottom left-hand corner of the three-metre wide frame.
The next morning, I picked up the 6” x 4” prints from a local two-hour processing kiosk. Sitting in a cafĂ©, I arranged the disparate prints, overlapping and skewing each like a glossy piece of a mosaic, in order to assemble a coherent image. Using Sellotape, I stuck the pieces together as best I could. It looked terrible but at least it showed the painting in full.
I took the picture to the owner of the hall in which I wanted to hang my first exhibition. He grimaced and sighed as I entered the space and strode up to his desk. I laid the taped-together photographs on the table before he could refuse to look at them.
So he looked – and he smiled.

3 comments:

Susan Buret said...

Ah, the triumph of will. Everthing we need is within us.

mondotrasho said...

I'm presuming you're working in oil enamel paint still. I'm just back from the lake and and catching up on my reading over coffee and just twigged onto the travails you're having with oils Ms. Dooney. It sounds like you're becoming sensitised to the VOCs -- believe me it won't be long until just the thought of paint starts to bring on the tinnitus, headaches and the lot. Masks with filters won't work BTW. You need a fresh air supply mask like they use in autobody shops. Essentially you're working in the same environment. For the style of painting you're doing acrylics mixed with gloss mediums and/or gloss varnish as a finish will duplicate or exceed the shiny enamel "look". No smell either. The only thing I can't stand about acrylics is that they dry too fast in my radiator heated studio in Winter to blend well without using a lot of retarder. Coat of varnish as a final layer and the colours pop right back to the wet look.

Zachary said...

The movie that just played in my head as a result of this post was hilarious. :-)

I used to use enamel paints to customize my action figures as a child. Boy do I ever remember how badly that didn't work. The paints dripped and became sticky..it was a mess. My hat is off to you for tolerating the medium.

I guess we all start somewhere.