It has been so long since I have written anything. Life has been difficult, but I will talk about that later. The topic for today's blog is all about character and beauty of imperfections. I am apart of several re-purposing pages on facebook and often I read some questions that trigger a gut reaction. One of these questions that I have come to realize is a major pet peeve is: what is the difference between hand painting or using a sprayer? Really...you really need me to answer that question?! So since it has come up several times and it usually strikes a sharp cord, I decided to address it to vent some of my frustration.
The big difference for me, between hand painting and using a sprayer, is the difference between your piece having character or not. Spraying the paint on a piece provides you with a flawless finish, but I guess my burning question is why would you want perfection from a piece that is brandishing scars from a life well lived. Character is the quintessential purpose when it comes to my approach to painting.
When I first started painting about 4 years ago I really had no idea what I was doing. I was floundering for something that was going to help with my OCD, anxiety, and depression and I thought that maybe painting would help. It did, of course, because using your hands is a very therapeutic experience. With hand painting I get this overwhelming sense of pride knowing that I have touched every inch of a piece when I am finished. It is extremely rewarding to see the fruits of my hard labor. And I do mean very hard labor. In my opinion, the whole purpose of the paint is to highlight the details of a piece that give it character, a past, which in turn help you tell its story. The perfection of a piece is found in the imperfections.
This was quite an epiphany for me. I finally understood that the whole point of painting and being creative was to let the piece speak for itself. I know I always say it, and people look at me funny when I do, that a piece will tell you what it wants to be.
This vanity was one of my very first custom jobs. Please excuse the messy back ground and complete lack of staging. I was still a beginner at this point. I estimated this vanity to be from the early 1900s. It was stunning, but it needed a face lift. It had the usual wear and tear, scratches, crackled finish, dings, and one very beautiful crack on the top. When the customer dropped it off, she expressed a desire for me to fill the crack and make it look perfect. I told her okay, because what the customer wants, the customer gets. When it came down to it, I just couldn't fill the crack. I just kept thinking about how covering that up was a crime. I felt that if I filled it and painted over it I would be taking away a piece of its history, a sign that it had lived.
So, in complete defiance of what the customer wanted, I followed my gut and left the crack in all its glory to be seen for the rest of its life. The customer loved it despite my disobedience. I just always wonder how it got that crack. What happened? Who am I to say this piece doesn't get to wear its marks proudly. The imperfection creates a perfect display of a life well loved.
This next piece is another great example of how a piece of furniture can bring so much character to the table. Because I hand paint everything, the paint does not go on even. It creates a variance in the coverage, which in turn gives the opportunity for flaws to come to life. Often times while distressing I always have the intention of not over doing it, but sometimes the piece shows me what it wants. It can reveal an imperfection that I didn't see with the naked eye, but the paint brought it to attention. The heavily distressed areas on the drawer faces were not intentional, but they showed that this beautiful dresser had traveled far and wide and lived life to the fullest.
This desk is one of my all time favorite pieces. It came in pretty good condition, just needing to be refreshed and given a new lease on life. My whole intent with this desk was to highlight the beautiful simple lines and keep the whole piece fresh and clean. Well, like every piece, they always have a say. After hand painting two coats and then beginning to distress, this piece revealed its so called simplicity, but also possibly a sordid past. The drawers, although seemingly perfect before paint, revealed little dings and nicks that seemed to give the piece a personality all alone. The hardest thing I had to learn was that hand painting doesn't provide an even application, nor does it provide for even removal while distressing. There in lies the true beauty. I hope that when someone bought this desk they had a moment and just wondered, if she could speak, what would she say. What is her story?
In other cases, some pieces seem to have no hope and you wonder why you even bought it. This desk was one of those pieces. I bought it because it was cheap and it had a crossbar on the bottom that I thought showed some promise. I took a chance. It was the ugliest desk I had ever seen in the most hideous shade of brown stain. As I started hand painting this desk I kept trying to come up with ways to give it character because I was sure there was nothing there to work with. Well, I was wrong. This piece had some character, it had just never been given the opportunity to bloom into its full potential. After a little paint, a stencil, some heavy distressing, and switching out the yucky brass knobs from the 1980s, this desk looked like she was ready for her day in the spotlight. Hand painting gave me the opportunity to infuse character into every inch of this little beauty. My mom took one look at this desk when it was done and insisted on buying it from me.
As an artist, you look at things with a different eye. You approach life differently. All of these looks I could not have achieved had I used a sprayer. I want a piece to speak when it is finished. It should display a legacy of a life well lived. A piece of furniture is very much like a life. We as people are scratched and marred along the journey. We do things to cover those pesky imperfections because they show our vulnerability, but the truth is those marks give us character. They tell us and others who we are, how we came here, and where we are going. Everything we see, touch, feel, and love changes us. Everyone we meet has the ability to leave an imprint on our lives.
This leads me to the hardest part of this blog. I haven't written in awhile because 2 months ago today, my beloved cat, Poncho, passed away. He had been having some health problems and we had to make a difficult decision to put him to sleep. It was one of the worst days of my life. We adopted him in 2014 at the ripe old age of 11. He was a sweetie from the very beginning. My own little fury baby sprinkling joy throughout my days. He came to us with some unforeseen health problems that were a constant struggle over the past 2 years and eventually claimed his life. But now he is gone and no longer in pain. At first the loss was more than I could bare. Poncho had been with me through some very difficult times.
Now that he is gone, I am realizing that his presence in my life and my home has changed me! As much as I say that I rescued him, he really rescued me. His loss has reminded me that life is messy. We lose loved ones, we struggle to control inner demons, and we are faced with situations that test us to the very core of our being everyday. But that is life. These struggles are what build character. How we deal with them displays our legacy to the world, and determines our path into the future. Much like the furniture I paint, life is no where near perfect and then the question begging to be asked is, why would we want it to be? If a perfect life meant that I never had adopted Poncho, then it's not a life I would want. Yes I am in pain over his loss, but not to sound cliché, I would rather have loved and lost him than to never have found or loved him at all. My love for him is his legacy and proof that he lived.
So this blog post is for my beloved Poncho, who even though he is gone, he will always live on. In his short time with me he granted me a mark that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. One day, the open wound will heal to reveal only a scar. A scar that will be joined by many more throughout my journey. Those imperfections on the canvas of my life will create my own legacy. The true test is finding beauty in those flaws and accepting that they have crafted me into the person I am meant to be. So here is to my sweet Poncho who left his paw prints on my heart.
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