By WR Jones
Valorie’s Quilt 48″ x 60″ Oil on linen
Not long ago I complained to my daughter about some issue with this still unfinished painting. Her reply – “Well, you’ve got 10 years on it so far, what’s another year.”
She has a point there. As luck would have it, I don’t need to sell paintings for a living. Otherwise I wouldn’t be living. Had I created a documentary about this piece it could have been used as a dire warning about starting a painting without a crystal clear composition goal. You know, the moron’s way I approach every painting. My reasoning is – FABULOUS idea, let’s get started on it, I’ll figure out the remaining 75% of composition later.
Along my merry painting way on this piece I at one time had a cat on the bed, took him out, put him back. Where the kitten and the dropped stack of squares are on the floor once held two young girls. One was playing jacks, the other held a doll. I painted out one of the girls and added a toddler clinging to the quilt. Painted out the toddler and later the remaining little girl. After that had dried I realised that now you could see the entire mechanism of the sewing machine. On a sculpting trip to New York we stopped at every antique shop we could find looking for reference material for the machine treadle et al.
My latest brilliant idea was to use a book to breakup the large sheet area at the foot of the bed. I first painted it, then realized I hadn’t used perspective. Repainted then realized, OH, it is two point perspective. Then after turning, pulling, pushing, twisting, realized I couldn’t use a lettering template to do the book title; the letters are also in perspective. For example, the L doesn’t have 90 deg angle between the bottom and the vertical edge it is 60 deg.
Bait and switch – I ordered a ‘free’ trial font design program. As soon as I opened the program and tried to edit a letter a message said that couldn’t be done with the free version, I needed to pay $80 for the ‘basic’ version. I made some progress with this version until I tried a particular (and necessary operation), message said this operation required the $150 ‘standard’ version. Continued with great progress, last click to clean up the letter spacing. Computation proceeds with a progress bar; a clean line showing my title in the custom perspective font appears on the screen. I click to save and …. message – this operation requires the $250 ‘pro’ version, on sale for $200. I cried for a brief period and caved. What could I do? They had a gun to my painting thumb. I’m way to shakey to paint the letters freehand. I proved this by trying it, 3 times. Then after designing the font I had to send it out to have a stencil made. Yep, that was some more money. I should have painted over the book idea and put in a ball of yarn. It’s not like I’m in any way adverse to changing horses in mid river. Anyhoo, I think I may have it done within the year, ojala.
I read that muscle memory, which in my case is as useless as regular memory, may be extra myelin coating particular nerve cells. You get this extra coating by repetition of movement. This can be playing a guitar, shoveling dirt (bad example for me), swinging a golf club, throwing a dart. The theory is, in my raggled halfassed understanding, if you repeat the motion enough times in the same manner, you get a faster smoother neural path which helps with repeatablity of a desired outcome. So right away after reading this article I realize I have no myelin. My nerves have no protective coating which may expain the crankiness my daughter (and the rest of the family) complain about.
After thousands of dart throws I still suck. In some respects it is intriguing. It seems improbable that one could do an act so many times with no discernible improvement. I have proved it possible, as the Creepy Cheeto would say, believe me.
A short internal dialog at today’s dart sufferfest –
Those last two darts were pretty bad. Well, three actually if you count all three darts. A short time later – Say not bad, not bad at all, for me anyway. I’ve now thrown 7 darts and not one of them stuck in the wall out past the 3 foot mark. If I keep the wall shots within 3 feet of the dartboard edge the lighting is such that my wife can’t see the holes (that is with the lights dimmed – which I do as soon as I hear her coming)