Thursday, November 13, 2014

making something

Drawing, painting: I watch it happen; I clean up after it; I exclaim over it; I tape it to all the walls in my house; I recycle some of it (in secret). But I do not draw myself, as a rule. I've never been any good at it. I'd like to externalize onto a visual plane but -- well, what I remember about painting is this:

On a roof in a South Carolina spring, I dip my brush into the absurd purple paint and it saturates each fiber, bubbling and thick. No one else is around right now. I press the brush against the wood and drag it left. It's a dry feeling. The wood wants the color, eats it right up, asks for seconds, please. This I can do. I fill the brush and spoon the paint across the space again; the color slides better now. Again, again. I'm working on a small corner of old wooden siding, and there's so much more to do. I'm not afraid to go slow here; I really can't mess this up. I don't need to speak. All I need to do is feed this space. I can meet these physical needs. It feels good across my arm. Some paint drips onto my boot. I like how it looks, the purple splatter pattern on my toe, so I let another drip fall, on purpose. It looks like I've been doing something fun.

I came across those boots not so long ago, and that purple paint -- I could just feel it again, lubricating the dry old wood of that dry old house. That was a long time ago, now, when I was in a place so far from home, where I doubted myself so intensely, where I felt lost and inadequate. I've never been much for creating things with my hands -- not building, not drawing, not painting. But I found solace that day, covering a blank space with color, feeling like I coudl actually do something real.

I hung onto those boots for years beyond their useful life. They sat in the laundry room, molding probably, but I couldn't get rid of them because they had a history. They look like I was somewhere, like I did something, like I made something. And it's true: I had.