It started with a spark. Like a tiny ember that produces a raging wildfire in the forest, this hint of an idea led to something big. A flash of creativity came to her and she wanted to make something.
Decorating her home has led her in many directions. In search of ideas. And blank wall space directed her toward art. She wanted big art. Oversized canvasses, filled with color. In the art galleries and home décor shops she found such paintings. At a very high price. At least for her budget. So she chose another route. She would do it herself. And so the idea of painting a large canvass was born.
I can’t speak to her creative process. Art is very personal. And creativity is even more so. I can say however that I like her paining. She calls it an abstract. Untitled number one. But I have another name for it. Because I see something deep inside of it. To me, it is The Calm Before the Storm. It’s the story of a young woman ready to burst upon the Universe in her full glory.
With a dark blue background, like the outer reaches of space, or perhaps the inner reaches of her brain, the upper portion is covered in a gray haze. Thoughts and ideas and personality all forming and beginning to congeal. As your eye moves down the canvas the colors change. Now it is filled with flashes of white and dark blue and light blue and gray. All very well defined and distinct. And appearing in a very random order. Many ideas and aspects of her soul are formed more clearly now. And the complexity of the individual is displayed.
There is no judgment or qualification as to value or propriety. It’s just a transformation. As we all go thorough. But this one is displayed on canvass. Fabulous.
The only issue was that while she was figuring out what she was going to paint, the bare canvass sat in the house, still wrapped in the plastic cover used to protect its brilliant whiteness from dirt. In hindsight, she should have removed the plastic while she waited. Inside the plastic, one of the wooden sides of the canvass stretcher warped. Thus, the painting would not lay flat against the wall. One corner stuck out.
I’m pretty sure I could have come up with some explanation for that deformity relating to the artistic expression contained therein. Oh, that corner represents the three dimensional nature of our existence and the fact that the corner protrudes as it does indicates that the artist is moving onward, and outward along a continually changing line. Art critic speak. But I knew it was a warped idea, and a warped frame. And I knew how to fix it.
A frame, built rigidly with wood and attached directly to the stretchers would do it. I could straighten the warp and all would be well.
So I broke out my miter box, and the accompanying saw. Gathered up some narrow strips of wood and brads. And for good measure, some dark blue paint. She had told me she didn’t want a frame on the painting. I could make it a quarter inch thick on each side and paint it the same dark blue color as the background. It would blend right in.
Measure twice, cut once. Apply a couple of coats of paint. Pretty. Firmly flatten the stretcher and attach each of the sides with a couple of brads. A perfect fit!
But when I held it up, it was still warped. Looked beautiful, but still warped. Maybe the idea of the three dimensional explanation wasn’t so bad after all.
The artist told me she would just toss the whole mess and start over. Nope. Now this was an engineering challenge to me. One that I could not back away from . Or lose to. So what’s the real problem and how do I solve it?
I’m not an engineer, or an artist. But I can look at something like this and figure something out. Maybe not the way Einstein would, but I could get it to work.
I decided that two of the diagonally opposing corners had to be pulled together.
Hmmmm… I’ve got it I said. I’ll attach a brace to the back and tighten it all up. It would have to run diagonally, from corner to corner. But the brace itself would have to be shorter than the span it was to cover. Using the shortened brace to cover the whole distance would put an arc into the stretcher. And eliminate the warp. Genius.
Properly measured, I tacked one end of the brace into the corner. Then held down the center of the stretcher and pulled up on the other corner. Holding it all together, rather awkwardly, I set the second tack. Wham! And I let go of the whole thing.
With some amazement, and a good bit of self satisfaction, I realized that this had actually worked. The picture would now lay flat against the wall. So I touched up the brad heads and the corners and a few little scrapes here and there with the dark blue paint. And let it dry.
And then I loaded it into the car and took it back to the artist’s house. Where I hung it on the wall. Laying very flat. She may still tell me its untitled number one, but I will always see it as an expression of her inner self. And a wonderful collaboration between me and my daughter.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?