A painting a day, begin stage 3: #25, Epic

It’s the first day of our final week in Boston and I am beginning to get that familiar sense of fidgety overwhelm and lazy apathy that always accompanies the ends of things. Senioritis, you’d call it, if I were a student, but since I am not, there is no name for it. There is much to do before Sunday. Some of it will be fun, like seeing friends; most of it is less so: laundry, restocking groceries, figuring out a way to ship three 22″ x 30″ sheets of paper across the country.

From past experience I know the only way to get through such an amorphous mountain of chores is to just chip away, one task at a time, but it’s the ordering that makes it so hard to visualize. Should I cancel my PO box today (an errand requiring a 2+ mile walk, round-trip), or wait until the end of the week? Does it make more sense to ship things home ASAP (thereby reducing clutter), or wait until the last minute (thereby reducing chances of overlooking some item and having to make two trips)? How much food do we need to get through the week? What if I plan my errands for Thursday and Friday, but the weather turns rainy (not a good time to lug cardboard boxes to the PO)? It’s not rocket science, but my brain does not like having so many open loops and no neat hierarchy or schedule to slot them into. Sigh. This happens every single time we move from a place.* I might just write everything on separate Post-It notes and rearrange them at will… this stuff needs visual organization.

I don’t know if it’s all the move-out chores, or I would have felt this way anyway, but it’s harder to muster up the fervor to work on this third stage of the daily painting project. The first two stages were related to each other, but I thought I should branch out for this last round. In contrast to the earlier paintings, I wanted these to flow more organically on the page, rather than staying separate in gridlike fashion. I also wanted to incorporate text, and I wanted to pay homage to some ancient text-and-image artworks. Maybe that was too many goals to take on during move-out week?

To tell the truth, mostly I just wanted to paint something that felt like the Bayeux Tapestry. I thought it would be funny to tell our travel story in that style.

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This tickles me. I took liberties with our luggage (since otherwise everything would just have been black or navy blue), and Lyapa shouldn’t really be in the picture because she hasn’t come with us, but whatever. I got to spend an hour and a half staring at pictures of the tapestry, and — have you ever really looked at it? It’s gorgeous. It’s really a magnum opus of hand embroidery, not a piece of weaving (as a true tapestry would be). So many fine stitches, such detail, all of this representing hours and hours of work by many talented needleworkers, and yet with enough unevenness to give the whole thing a charmingly improvised feel. I tried to replicate that feeling in my picture, but it doesn’t translate perfectly; a stitched line (as I well know) comes out uneven for quite different reasons than a painted or drawn line.

So I love this painting, but I’m not really sure where to go after this. I had intended to reference other masterworks too, not only from the Western world; I thought of classical Chinese paintings (the kind with poems written in a corner), but it’s a bit weird to pair those with the Bayeux Tapestry. So I feel stuck… and that kind of kills my motivation… and I can’t give it too much of my mental energy, because I still have all these moving-related things to do.

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Well, I am sure I will think of something. I always do. It’s also very likely I won’t have time to finish this third sheet before I have to ship it home, so if that happens, I’ll be working on smaller pieces of paper for the remainder of our stay in Boston. We shall see.

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*And that is how, longtime readers might recall, I ended up at the post office the morning of our departure from Paris, desperately feeding dozens of coins into the automated kiosk while hoping we wouldn’t miss our train.

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