I have a dear friend. She lives four blocks away. We both have two boys, almost exactly the same ages. Our older boys both have orange voices. Our younger boys both have sky blue voices.
She donated her family to me for a portrait when I was testing this synesthesia art idea. They’re a beautiful palate: Terra cotta. Indigo. Orange. Sky blue. We thought water color. We talked about the design. Mid-century modern blocks, we decided. She even had a frame for it to go in.
I painted…but I could NOT get it right.
The project languished. Then she went on a vacation. I had a house key, and I determined to finish this project while she was out. Eight or nine failed attempts later, I finally felt I had something that matched our vision, even if I wasn’t happy with it. Besides, I really wanted to surprise her, so I had to install it before she got back. I named it “While You Were Out…” and hoped for the best.
The day arrived. I went to her house with my two boys, and they played while Murphy struck over and over and brought mom to the edge of curses in the next room. The paper I used didn’t fill the mat. I forgot matting tape and could not find even scotch tape to borrow – I ended up pillaging tiny pieces from the blue tape used to hang her son’s art work on the walls. Then I noticed I was dealing with a shadow box frame…so the art was hanging crazily from the mat with air space on both sides and nothing to press it flat from the back. In the end we left our gift, a note, and surrendered. While You Were Out was IN and I got the heck out of there before something else went wrong.
She noticed the day after returning, and gracious as always, thanked me for it. I told her it was fine if it ended up in a drawer…or the trash…but that the collaboration was worthwhile because now we had this story to tell.
A few weeks passed. I got an email. My friend was moving away. I cried. In the weeks that followed I helped her pack her house. I cried more. I packed more.
One particularly sad day I turned to art as I often do. I did a simple piece with her family’s palate, just to have.
I sent her a picture just so she could see it.
You can guess how this ends. She asked for it and of course I said yes. Then I offered to redo another that would accomplish our original plan: fill The Frame. She said yes. I brought my supplies over to her house and did the piece right there on her kitchen island while she cooked lunch beside me.
And so: my score with The Frame was settled. My friend has something special, done with love. And, as it happens, it perfectly jives with her carpet!
This is a much better send-off than “While You Were Out…”