I like to recreate things. I am intrigued by the world of possibilities that lie dormant in things that already exist. I’m not trying to brag – in fact, I’m fairly awful at coming up with things from scratch. Ask me for a new idea, and you’re practically guaranteed that I will instead search Google for an old idea and try to spiff it up. As a child (and well, yes, now too) I was always enthralled by the make-over episodes on tv shows. I like before and after shots. I like things that were once something else. I like shopping for thrift store clothing, recovering old pillows with new fabric, combining every left over in the fridge to make a stew…
This love of the make-over is not always super convenient. As Ken and I have spent months searching for a house, we often disagree about the possibility for reinvention. I see with marbleized shag carpet, floral wall paper, and mauve bathroom tiles, and I say, just think what we could do with this! I look past all sorts of aesthetic and some structural flaws because I’m not looking at what’s there, I’m looking at what could be there – regardless if I am actually capable of doing it.
Painting is a kind of reinvention. I start with a memory, a color scheme, or a photo, and I turn it into a mass of brush strokes on canvas. And paintings are not safe from reinvention either. My first attempts at things are often failures, and so rather than waste a canvas, I just paint over it. If, a hundred years from now, a curator x-rays my paintings and find the first takes underneath, I hope he or she is kind enough to quietly pretend there is nothing there rather than call attention to my rough drafts.
This week I found an old but-in-good-shape solid wood chair (a splendid garbage-pick) and decided that I had to have it. It became a three hour long conquest to chip off the old and peeling varnish with a flat head screw-driver (because we don’t own a putty knife). Several more days later, the third coat of paint is drying and it is residing happily in the corner of our dining room, just waiting for us to have enough dinner guests to call it into play.
As luck would have it, I didn’t have the foresight to take a before picture, so you get only the after. But isn’t it lovely?