Sunday, June 14, 2009

Father-Daughter Paint Night

The oil painting above is 4x5 feet and was painted in 3 hours. Normally a painting this size would take me months.

It starts with a quick home cooked meal. Crab cakes and a simple salad. I open a bottle of wine and listen to the gurgle of the first fast pour. Dad cracks the pop of a cold PBR and takes a satisfying sip. There’s excitement in the air because tonight the two of us are going to create a painting. It a giant white canvas--I mean this thing is big. It rests directly on the floor and leans against the wall. No easel could support it. I turn The Stones up a little louder on the stereo while dad adjusts the lighting. The room is now very bright and it’s late and dark outside. We’ve done this a few times before. Sometimes we start with a photograph, the painting above we call Elk Creek. It’s on property our family owns in the mountains of North Carolina. The photo was taken in early fall just as the leaves were really starting to change. Or sometimes we’ll create something totally abstract--just because it’s fun to sling paint and see what happens.

There aren’t any real rules. Dad will sketch out the horizon line. I’ll squirt some green and blue paint onto my palette. Pick out a paintbrush and GO! It’s fast and furious. We paint like crazy people. The music is loud, really loud. No close neighbors out in Hillsborough to complain. I’ll create leaves on a tree that hasn’t been painted yet while dad fills in the deep rust color of the ground. After about an hour it’s starting to take form. It takes that long just to get paint over most of the large canvas. We’ll step back ten feet to get a good view of our progress. Make some suggestions, grab another beer, change the CD and hit it hard again. About two hours into it I’m covered in paint. All I can smell is the nutty linseed oil and the sharp note of oil paints. It’s really starting to take shape and I’m having a hell of a lot of fun. Dad starts critiquing my paint application and I tell him to shut-up and work on his shading. Somehow in the midst of it all, a random blob of yellow ended up in the creek. Neither of us know where it came from, probably a glob of yellow paint intended to be a leaf but fell onto the blue of the water. We decide that we love it and leave it to be. Sometimes art creates itself and you just get to be a part of it all. After 3 hours neither of us can believe how incredible our painting looks. Maybe it’s the booze, maybe we’re both high from all the paint fumes. But each time I’m incredibly shocked at what we’ve created. I would never have been able to paint this on my own, and the same for my dad. We each bring something to the canvas that is special. My mom can usually tell who painted what, but she’s known us for our entire creative lives. Others can’t tell all at. Somehow our brushstrokes and color choices are able to work together, as different as fingerprints but all on the same hand. We’ll price our paintings out loud. “This one is definitely worth $3K easy!” “No, there’s no way I’m letting it go for less than 5.” But we’ll end up donating it to a charity auction. The one below is being sold at A Tasteful Affair this year, a benefit for the Ronald McDonald House if you’d like to have a look in person.

One day dad and I hope to have a gallery showing of all our joint paintings. We’ll wear black and sip martinis and pretend that we knew exactly what we were doing every stoke of the way.

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