thinking through my fingers

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” Isaac Asimov said that. So when Mr Speed requested an “art piece” for his Crimbo gift, I got to thinking.

I thought, cut and pasted and painted off and on for most of November, part of December. Mr Speed was banished from my office/studio, what with a secret work-in-progress going on and all.

I got the words for the piece, a lyric from one of his songs, early on. “I tell a story; you hear a story.” Soon after that, I knew the story I hear is about the distance in me between east and west coasts. Cut. Paste. Paint. I’d get so far, be almost done, but then I’d somehow lose it, and it would be ruined. Very often, I soon realized, it is because I really don’t know how to paint, even though I am an art school dropout.

So I’d let the piece moulder for a few days and loathe myself, then see a solution, and carry on. Layer after layer, scraping, assessing, trying something new, listening for completion. It became a thick palimpsest of thinking through my fingers.

Finally, it was the day of receiving, and it was time to give it up and away. I hate the final piece, but loved the process of getting there, and learned a lot. Mr Speed claimed happiness.

The next day, I began a new canvas, building on the thoughts and experience of the previous one. I remembered some stuff I used to know. I ruined this one a few times too, but brought it back a little more successfully. Progress! It’s not done quite yet, but I don’t hate it. I want to cannibalize the first piece for its now-rare and dear ceramic letters, to make for Mr Speed something truer. I have finally gotten his consent — if I document the first one. Really well. (The light is crap now, but that’s a cruddy shot of the first one as a placeholder.)

Then, typically, I went a little crazy, and ordered a tabletop easel and some better-quality paints. I started another canvas. It makes me so happy to see it, and it’s ever so much easier to work on an easel. I’ll keep you apprised of my output. Thank you for your indulgence.

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