Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Goofy Stuff

Years ago I took an extension course at the University. It was a three class program in Interior Design. As my readers may know, my personal design theory is eclectic. Actually the first time I heard that word was in Bloomingdale's Furniture Department. One particular room design was referred to as "eclectic" but I thought the word was "neglectic". Being a mother of three small children I knew all about the "style of neglect". At any rate, I had a great interest in decorating and was thrilled to be taking the classes. One of my instructors shared that she had just received the commission of "doing" a restaurant. Initially I felt sorry that she was stuck decorating a "goofy restaurant". No bedrooms or living rooms, just dining rooms. In my youthful estimation, she belonged doing amazing homes that ended up in magazines. I would soon realize that interior design was also space planning not just paint color and furniture.

So in my own career "goofy restaurants" have fallen into my lap. I thought I should be doing grand canvases. Instead I began a long list of "goofy" stuff that has served me well.

A neighbor inquired if I was willing to paint on cement. Come to find out she had an unsightly well tile and so it was up to me to cover it with faux rocks. The first rocks disappeared in the winter snows and, in that way, I learned to prime first! The next year's crop of rocks lasted just fine. I have since painted signs and even a rolling gun card for this same neighbor.
I started painting on shards of found slate. Many of the old homes in our area had slate roofs, and as they fell into disrepair, were sadly demolished. Friends collected these bits and pieces for me. Each painted piece came with its own easel and I called the collection "Window Sill Art". My first residential commissions were on slate.

Another friend had a doll house business. I had no idea how complete doll houses had become right down to chandeliers. So, of course, they also needed original art. I started by painting the tiny furniture of a baby's room with bear designs. The wardrobe was my first effort when, suddenly from beneath my brush, emerged a rather dashing bear looking like he was sneaking off to the races. By the time I got to the crib my "bears" had settled into pastoral comfort. I also painted a tiny screen to look like a fancy drape, and a panoramic hope chest in addition to tiny framed paintings. It certainly schooled me in the art of making tiny details.

A former neighbor discovered a painting lying along side the road that led to the dump. "Could it be valuable from a famous artist?" he asked. Although my knowledge of art history was limited I felt I could safely assure him it wasn't a discarded masterpiece so I offered to restore it. I tenderly cleaned it, enhanced the faded color, and stuck it in a frame. Unfortunately I discovered that he didn't even like the painting and was just interested in its potential value. Oh well, live and learn.

Which brings us to the present. I am currently painting a shoe that is longer than I am tall,heavier than me, and most definitely, unwearable. Watch for the installation on June 6th in Rochester, NH. This is, for certain, the goofiest thing yet.