Spraypaint fumes and a cheese sandwhich and 36 little paintings.

April 17th, 2013, 2pm

It was 18.3°C. There was moderate breeze.

The dog sat on the floor under the easel. She stared at me.

I leaned over and placed the first piece of paper on the table. The paper was from Florence. A whole box of it that I bought ten years ago when I studied there. I liked the textured deckled edges and the heafty weight of each cold pressed sheet.

Shortly after laying down one piece of paper, there were four. Then nine. Then 24. Then 36.

36 heavy slabs of image holding goodness, laid out in rows, like a very stoic and well trained group of dancers. Ready for the show.

I dragged the brush across a sheet. Black. Only black. For focus. I moved charcoal in my left hand while the brush turned freely in my right. They went their own ways, eventually swapping brushes for pencils and charcoal for spraypaint. Making moves with both hands, as many tools as I could find, and more pieces of paper than I could keep up with was all I could do to keep myself distracted.

The windows were open. The stereo was on. Tosca sang her love for the painter Cabaradossi when I looked up.

36 pieces of paper were covered in black. I saw what I had done and paced in front of the table.

Someone knocked at the door. It was my neighbor, the printmaker. She ricocheted into the studio, bouncing off the walls with her big warm smile. She went to the table.

“This one and this one go together.”

I craved her fresh eyes.

“This one is done. Put on gloves and set it aside.”

Done? I thought. Okay.

“This is a set. Now bring in some color. And these? They are very dark. They’re disconnected from everything else you’ve created. They’re a set. Work them last.”

I stood still and smiled. She turned around to leave.

“Now you need to stop. Go for a swim. Let me make you a salad. You’ve been working nonstop.”

“Isn’t it funny that from all of these paintings, only 24 made the first cut? And after this next round, I’ll be lucky to have 12.”

“You’ll be lucky to have two.”

The door closed behind her.

“Two!” I said to the dog, laughing. I picked up my brush and got back to work.

Paul, Chris, Gueorgui, Cassie and 9 others said thanks.

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