Friday, December 16, 2011

Out of My Element

This time of year, it’s more likely that I’m painting frosting on cookies than applying paint to canvas. Holiday prep takes away much of my art time—although I'm not complaining—I love the holidays, but I get a little crazy when I don’t have my studio time.

This year, in addition to the normal holiday activities, I have a volunteer project that is keeping me busy. I’m painting a sign that will be mounted on a small billboard at the entrance of town. The billboard welcomes folks to town and also serves as the gateway to our new Village Hike and Bike Trail.

Had I been asked to design and paint a woodsy kind of sign that represented our little mountain community, I would have been the perfect gal for the job. This project, however, is outside my skill set. It involves enlarging and recreating a sticker that declares Wrightwood as the Land of Four Seasons. Having “real weather” and trees that change color attracts a lot of people to our town—and that’s why we love it here.

Well, I must say this project has been a struggle. The stylized pine tree in the middle was a snap, but the fine serif lettering encircling it—not so much. I have some major performance anxiety going on with this project. It’s not the people in cars whizzing by that will notice my lame vibrato letters, it’s the walkers who will pause and say, “Boy, they sure didn't hire a very good sign painting company for this.”

My hope is to finish it up this weekend. Paint, touch-up, and repaint—repeat as necessary—until the type looks like type instead of burbles. So, until the paint fumes start to get to me, I'll keep at it.

Meanwhile, that boot has been on my mind. The golden highlights of the sun where it lights the leather, the tidy eyelets, and the toe—molded by sweat into the shape of the wearer’s foot, scuffed by hard use. I know it will be an acrylic painting, because I'm craving the texture of paint pushed around by a stiff brush. Plus, I have some new brushes I’m dying to try out.

Sometimes my best paintings are the ones that burst forth after art deprivation periods. This year our last holiday hurrah is Christmas Eve (Quiche-mas Brunch for friends and family), after which we will enjoy a quiet Christmas day at home—just the two of us. If we’re lucky, it will snow. Clint will curl up on the couch with a book and I’ll head up to the studio for some creative time.


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