December 22, 2018

LC, large canvas3
Canvas Sketch, Step 4, Tuesday afternoon (12/18/18), photo taken inside my garage.

I thought I would finish today, but think I need one more day. And today’s session was a bit harrowing as the tiniest bit of wind flipped the canvas face down onto the ground. Thank goodness acrylic paint dries fast and it was OK. Of course there was a small problem with the tray I use to mix my colors. The wind blew it face down onto the concrete and left a splotch of blue paint. Hmm…I have a couple small bungee cords I will try to use next time to attach the canvas to the garden stakes. Stay tuned…

LC, large canvas4
Canvas Sketch, Step 5, Friday afternoon (12/21/18, first day of winter), photo taken outside my garage.

Going a pace?

As kids, when we were involved in some kind of project for school, writing a paper or doing general homework, my dad would ask us if we were “going a pace.” Such a term had special meaning for us, but probably doesn’t mean anything to you. I just Googled it and I guess it is actually a measure of 30 inches. But when my dad asked us if were “going a pace” we weren’t measuring whatever we were doing in inches, but in time. Like, how long before we expected to be done, or had we gauged the project correctly so we weren’t trying to do it last minute. My mom thought his routine “check ins” a bit odd because she said that when they were at UCLA he always procrastinated doing his homework and studying for tests. I figured he adopted this attitude because he didn’t want us to put off getting things done in a timely manner, then rushing at the end to finish. Interestingly enough this term did not originate with my dad.

My dad was an electrical engineer in Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) in 60s, 70s and early/mid 80s. He loved designing circuits. For a time it seemed he was always changing jobs, going from one small start up company to another. When he started a new group, with an actual R and D (Research and Development) budget, he would order test equipment and tables etc. Then, his group of engineers and techs would literally build all the circuits/parts they would need for any given project and test it out right there in the lab. My dad had one tech guy; we’ll call him WH. It seemed my dad would invariably hire WH to join his group at whatever lab my dad was in charge of at the time. My dad loved to go into the lab and see his friend sitting at a workbench, tinkering with the group’s latest circuit. And he would ask him, “How’s it going WH?” And WH would reply, “We are going a pace.” Which meant they were getting closer to the measurements for the specs (specifications) they were looking for and that would make my dad smile. That way he knew they were nearer to completing a circuit that could then be reproduced and sold to waiting customers.

Since this painting took some real time and planning I wondered all along if I was going a pace. I guess that’s always the question in the back of my mind when I start a painting, or even a sketch. Will I finish it? Or will I just sort of stop working on it, put it away and move on to something else? I think the secret to being a painter, at least my secret to painting, is to try to finish it no matter what.

I have a kind of One California Girl weekly blog process. Before sitting down to start writing on Monday afternoon/evening, I have secured in my mind a piece of art that I think will inspire a story. You may have noticed that each story usually has three components. First, I give background for each piece with regards to the materials I have used to create it. Second, I support my California images/landscapes with names and places specific to California, sometimes with CA historical information I think is relevant and/or interesting. Finally, and of course not the least important, are the stories of my family—some who were born here and some who came in from the cold of various western and Midwestern states to sunny Southern California.

But this week my process was a little different, as I didn’t finish the art as planned. I wound up with a cold over the weekend and just couldn’t get myself outside either Sunday or Monday. But all this procrastination is actually what I had planned to write about this week, so I had a story in mind even before the art was finished. Don’t get me wrong, I walked past the canvas I started last week numerous times and definitely had a course of action to complete it. Or did I? I guess my question is, “Am I a finisher?” How about you? “Are you a finisher?” I got this one done, but I have a story of a painting that I never finished. It was meant to be the definitive portrait of my grandmother, a woman I never met. Even though I painted over the beginnings of her portrait years ago, I still feel a little intimidated and guilty—wondering why I didn’t complete it. And why isn’t it featured prominently over the mantle of my fireplace, like so many other grand family portraits I’ve seen in the movies? But as I think about what I’ve already written, this seems to be the fodder for a future California story.

Oh, and the bungee cords worked swimmingly. Nothing landed on the ground for the last step for this canvas sketch! Woo hoo!

Happy Holidays!

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