The thing about paintings~mine for me, anyway~is how they remind me of what was going on with me at the time I was painting them. Unfortunately, that’s not always a good thing, but like *Sir Ulrich* said, we need to ‘take the bad with the good’ ☺️
I find it amazing how they remind me of things more vividly than any photo or journal or anything~the same goes for drawings or doodles in my notebooks. It’s a little bit scary, that way, and sometimes when I make things I wonder what the thing I’m making will remind me of, one day. With my luck, it’ll be everything, lol.
Anyway that’s what crossed my mind very recently when this nice new gallery very kindly invited me to join their opening exhibit. Being large, the gallery needed works of a size to match, and they needed them in a relative hurry.
Even if I chugged all the silver and blue cans in the world, there was no way I was going to be able to finish even one piece that I’d be able to live with showing in public.
Long story short, they’ve agreed to take on some pieces I did a whopping 16 years ago, and they’re asking me for a write up to go with them. So I figured I’d murder two avians with a single concretion and share the lowdown on the works from this old Romp with you.
Acrylic + Oil Pastel = Playful
‘You won’t see a single bit of paint there,’ said my Dad. ‘She mixed sand with the paint,’ said my Mom. I remember them saying that about these pieces, and both of them were way off base 😊
While it’s true I have mixed sand with acrylic on a couple of pieces before, I didn’t do that here. What I did do, in a nutshell, was to paint these pieces with acrylic first, then go back over each with oil pastels. I’ve talked about how deeply I’ve always enjoyed the resulting texture in my quick start guide to acrylic.
What I didn’t mention is how working like this reminds me so much of drawing as a kid~what it was like to draw on a blackboard or on the pavement with chalk. (You know, like Bert in Mary Poppins y’all ☺️) Or with crayons. Or with oil pastels themselves since I remember using those as a kid, too.
I remember enjoying that, tactile experience where you felt the crayon or the chalk pressing into the surface and *rubbing it up and down* while you watched the colour fill up the space. You somehow didn’t get that with markers (I don’t know, that was how it was for me~ I think it was because I had to worry about them running out of ink all the time ☺️)
(And that was why watercolour was so magical for me by the time I’d gotten round to it~ because you were now watching the colours swim into place 😊) (But so sorry, I digress.)
Anyhow that would be my main reason for choosing this medium and doing the figures in ‘blobs’~I wanted to build on that playful vibe x childlike abandon x having good clean fun~the kind that involves physical activity. You know, rough-and-tumble, run, jump and play type thing.
I was never any good at sports or dancing or anything like that~ closest I ever got to being a cheerleader was the base of the pyramid ☺️ But I grew up on Gene Kelly movies and you wouldn’t believe the kung fu-Cirque du Soleil shiz I get up to in my head 😄
You also wouldn’t believe the physical demands~for me at least~ of working on these pieces, which measure about 43 x 30.75" / 109.22 x 78.105 cm. Not so very big, I grant you, although they are among the bigger pieces I’ve ever worked on (and come to a little over 4 by 3 feet with the frame).
But considering I had to work on these pieces on a desk (I didn’t have a big enough easel at the time) about a couple of feet wide and four feet long (or on floor space about four feet square). That meant sitting *crisscross applesauce* for hours on end, either perched on the desk, on the floor, and sometimes on the bucket of gel medium (the orthopaedic surgeon had a fit when he found that out 😅 ).
Anyways I realise I haven’t got work in progress photos because I think I only had my AA battery-powered digital camera at the time so, I’m afraid this is the best I can do:
My hands were so filthy with the oil pastel~and so was the little bottle of rubbing alcohol I used because I had a thing about washing my hands while I was working. I had (still have, actually) several boxes of oil pastels and I would classify them by colours and try to use each piece till they were so small I could barely hold them anymore (good thing I have small x raccoon hands I guess 😅 )
If my painting-driven memory serves me correctly I was still working in radio at the time. That meant I was working part-time, but that didn’t necessarily mean I had more time *in the studio* (or that I didn’t have to poison myself as much).
Because I think that was also around the time some friends and I were teaching art classes and such. I remember not being able to hang out with them as much because every spare minute I had went to these pieces. Like I remember they’d gone to some wonderful art farm or other owned by this patron of the arts so I couldn’t go with them (lost schmoozing op, too, I suppose).
So yeah, I was a real party pooper (still am, actually) but hey~that’s the price you pay.
About the Romps
Calle de Miel was the name of a drink in an online RPG I was once extremely fond of (until it got a tad extreme for me 😅 ) Anyhow I just thought I’d make my own, admittedly literal version of it (seeing as I don’t drink (so sorry, long story) 😊
Music, Professor! was what Geppetto said when he turned on the music box before taking Pinocchio for a test drive 😊 I just wanted to have fun with this piece (or actually, all of them~ seriously 😄 In spite of the production notes above 😅)
Okay, Mr Sunshine was how a song in a video game my siblings used to play started out~ so that led me to the idea of playing~ young or kid monsters playing. (The way they used to before video games, you know?) I had a memory of a big cement fish in a playground on the campus of that university I went to art school at, which was nearish my parents’ house.
Come to think of it, I don’t remember actually ever going to that playground, but I remember passing it a lot because we used to drive through that campus a lot. I mean a huge cement fish? That’s something you remember when you grow up, lol.
I Need Your Love was the tail end of the chorus of this song that always made me feel like flying. (We’re talking literal, blow my mind, set my brain on fire type flying, like I would imagine myself doing this.)
Judge of my surprise when I found out years later that the song was actually the intro of a cooking show that I never even watched (the last cooking show I ever seriously watched was Wok With Yan ☺️)
Gold and Amber and Green was also the tail end of the chorus of a Kander & Ebb song I fell in love with back in college ~ I didn’t see the original; I first heard it in the revue.
Incidentally I hope I get a chance to paint this again (there are some things I’d like to paint again, actually ~ some I already have 😅) ~ for this one I just had this, vision of monsters dancing under the coloured lights 😊
A-Whee, I think, used to be something my uncle used to say when he’d hoist my kid brother up into the air as a baby (and then my brother would squeal and giggle, you know the drill).
I admit I have a vague memory of which uncle that was (or which brother lol ~ I think it was No. 5 lol), and I have an even vaguer memory of watching that and wondering what that must’ve felt like for him (my brother, not my uncle LOL). Anyway I figured it must’ve felt a lot like being on a carnival ride 😊
Romp is based on one of my forever favourite books where a Lion played tag with two human girls after being killed by a wicked White Witch. As the book put it, ‘it was such a romp as no one has ever had except in Narnia.’
Somehow I seem to have mixed up that scene with another where Maenads and dryads and old Silenus on a donkey were having their own frolic, during which grapevines were growing wherever they went and sprouting juicy ready-to-eat grapes.
I admit you’d have to look hard to make these details out because I guess I got carried away 😅 Sometimes when I’m in that state, I’m just like ‘whoa’ afterwards and wonder *where all the leaves came from* 😅
B is for Bluff is a sort of portmanteau of blindman’s bluff and the ‘bubble song’ I remember from Sesame Street. Again, I really just wanted to have fun with this, and I also had fun playing with lots of different fish. Truth be told, I was dying to have a fish show, but it would be eight long years before I got the chance to work on my Aquarium.
And, it would be nine long years before I had the chance to let my oil pastels and acrylics play together again~ and I haven’t had a whole lot of opportunities for another playdate, since.
This little romp down memory lane, however, has kind of (as CS Lewis put it) made a rocket go up inside my head ☺️ And if that *drastic shift* I have planned away from the ‘new chapter’ I’d proposed for myself a couple years back shifts into place, who knows? That playdate might just happen soon. And I hope you’ll be there if it does 😅
In the meantime, I reckon Imma edit this for that write up 😅