Interlude #1: Paintings Physics:
Prologue: A Busy Life
Sometimes, busy is wonderful. For example, since my last IMPrint update, I have completed: two full book covers, two interior illustrations (one black and white, one color), two logos, two promotional pieces for the upcoming Konniption, a self-promotional flyer, and a map. I've cobbled together a mailing list and am in the process of verifying it. I have attended CloverCon, DemiCon, ConQuest and the St. Louis Ren Faire and I spent a week in Dallas. I taught two ten-week continuing education classes for the community college. I have updated the website several times. And I am now in the middle of a third book cover and two trading card illustrations.
What I have NOT managed to do (and this is the less-than-wonderful bit) is get back to my favorite pet project, the Pangalactic Bazaar.
After fretting over an apparent lack of material for a new IMPrint, and after some helpful advice from my wife, I have realized that there is still stuff to talk about. Since the Bazaar is being executed in acrylics, there is plenty to be discussed about the painting process, such as the particulars of Paint/Apartment Dynamics.
Spatial Theory: Art will expand to fill a given container
This apartment is approximately 800 or 900 sq. feet. In that space lives two people, two cats, several spiders and several squirrels. The spiders tend to stay hidden to avoid being eaten by the cats, and the squirrels luckily stay on the balcony, so far. We will get back to the cats in a minute. With no more than two people, it's a nice fit. A place for everything and everything in its place.
That is, until you add an illustration business. Then things get tight. As Robin said the other day, "Art is BIG." I have pretty much consumed the entire second bedroom. A large metal set of drawers, which we got free from my wife's lab when they remodeled, occupies the closet. I keep miscellaneous pieces of mat board, mats, originals, and supplies in these drawers. On top of the drawers is a small $3 set of flat files once used by a library but now, gutted, holds my smaller prints (no larger than 8"x10"). Also on top of the drawers sits our sound system, which hooks up to two large speakers. On top of one speaker is our old printer, and atop the other sits a small in/out bin and a cordless telephone base.
A bookcase holds an array of art books, software, used sketchbooks, printer paper, and other miscellaneous flat objects. A large metal filing cabinet, also free from the lab, holds project folders, convention paperwork, odd art supplies and too many miscellaneous things to even try mentioning. We recently found a set of flat files on sell for cheap at a graphic designer's garage sale. It now sets in the corner of the room, holding loose prints, matted prints, and flyers. On top of it sits a small paper cutter, a new scanner and several spindles of blank CDs.
Against the back wall sits the desk which was once, honestly, my wife's. Somehow, like glaciers during an ice age, my things have taken over most of this desk: a shiny new printer, a large digitizing tablet, and our computer, luckily now using a flat screen monitor we were able to get free. You may notice a certain trend in how we acquire things. Oh, and I forgot to mention the ceramic Woody Woodpecker lamp sitting on the desk. Yes, it's mine, too.
Most importantly, my drafting table stands against the north-facing window. It is usually littered with current paperwork with just enough surface cleared to do my art work. A couple large Rubbermaid containers underneath hold more art supplies and mailing materials. A small wooden table sits beside the drafting table and holds all of the painting supplies I need, including my palette. Beneath the wooden table hides a box of smaller boxes used to mail greeting cards.
To finish off the room, imagine an obscenely large paper cutter leaning against one wall amid a couple newspaper pads, oversized rulers and a fold-up hand truck; a mat cutter and several spare pieces of Plexiglas leaning wherever is convenient at the moment; and mat board, more delivery boxes and originals caringly stuffed into every available space left.
This does not include the large box of prints hidden under the living room chair, the extra matboard hidden under the oversized couch, or the pile of boxes kept in the bedroom.
Theory of Pigment/Floor Attraction: Paint and floors are attracted to one another.
- Corollary: Carpet exerts the strongest attractive force of all flooring materials.
Concrete floors are nice. Drafting chairs roll nicely on the hard surface. Spill your jar of water all over the floor? No problem! Leave a big streak of Prussian blue paint? So what, it's just concrete!
Unfortunately, our apartment does not have concrete floors. We have carpet. We have LOTS of carpet. There is a square of linoleum in front of the shower and in the kitchen. Every other square inch of interior floor is covered with a light beige paint magnet. Paint and carpet are magnetically attracted to one another. Since the carpet is usually fixed to the floor, this means paint is constantly trying to flow down and bond with the fibers. It does so quickly and efficiently, and the carpet proceeds to display any paint stain proudly. So far I have been able to avoid getting any paint on the carpet, but it has been a close call thanks to...
CATS: Free radicals, often deceptively inert, but prone to brief periods of high reactivity
Cats. When I did most of my work in colored pencil, our cats were a mild distraction. They would jump in my lap, pace the windowsill, try to get me to play, and generally loaf around, deep in slumber.
The rules changed when I got back into painting. One paw in the wrong place and you could have purple cat tracks running from one end of the apartment to the other and then under the sofa because, well, where else can it hide from its yelling owner?
Fig.1 - Friday
This has almost happened three times now. Here are two images showing the cunning looks on our two deviant elements, Friday (aka Freakey or The Freak, fig.1) and Motley (aka Mott, Monster, Mutts and Muddy, fig.2). The Monster clued me into the dangers of the situation first when, seeking my lap, she jumped onto my palette and looked at me innocently. Panicky reflexes kicked in and I grabbed her by the scruff. She planted a couple smears on my shirt as I dragged her into the bathroom and washed all of her paws in the sink. She has not managed to jump back into the paint yet. The Freak has managed it twice since then. Both times I have grabbed her before she could jump back to the floor.
Any time I step away from the painting, the palette goes into the metal drawers and the painting goes on top of the large filing cabinet. They like jumping onto the drafting table too much to leave a painting out. I have a fear of leaving the painting only to come back and find a feline friend stretched out on it, lounging and scratching. "Look Daddy, I was keeping it warm for you!"
By contrast, the chair issue is amusing at worst. Freaky is drawn to any chair I have recently vacated, especially my drafting chair. We have two chairs in the work room. She often sleeps on the green computer chair while I work. If I get up and leave the room, and I mean for ANY length of time, when I return, she will without fail be sitting in my chair. I pick her up, she squeaks in her own peculiar way, and she settles back into the green chair. And then she waits...
Now that she is grown up, Mott spends most of the day in the top of the closet, asleep on a Rubbermaid storage container. Occasionally she knocks down an empty binder just to remind me she is in the room.
Fig. 2 - Motley
In the end, somehow it all works out. Creative space management has allowed us (and our cats) to coexist with my art career. So far, careful handling of the paints has prevented any carpet stains and, after learning their behavior, I have been able to prevent our cats from causing any damage. And that, in the end, is the lesson I hope to pass on in this IMPrint- not the seeming hardships, problems or constraints of working in an apartment, not the trials or tribulations or hazards, but the simple truth that it finds a way to work out.