I Like Color with a Dollop of Mud

It’s muddy. Sucking your boots off mucky. My boots are thick with mud when I come home from the barn and pull them off in the front hall. I need something to brighten up my day, but I can’t get on a plane right now to escape the dreary weather so I’ve settled on a bit of color in a can to wash away the mud-caked days.

I’ve been juggling  projects which gives me pause to think maybe I should slow down a bit and take a breath rather than surging on grasping at all the possibilities. That’s the late in the evening tired and sore from the work day speaking.  I wake up with a list of this can be done today, or that will happen today, doesn’t always work out that way but it’s my waking moment of the day so I listen to it.  I think I need a break; I’m wearing thin on myself.

The hay guy rang me up and said he’d be here at three. While opening the gates at the dry lots for the tractor to rumble through and drop the big rolls of hay into their place of safety under the run-in, I noticed my puppy Aubrey was quietly sitting on the front seat of the truck waiting patiently for me to return. I could see his dark head through the window as I glanced in his direction several times to make sure there wasn’t upholstery being de-fluffed while I was gate keeping.  He’s a good dog. It was a good moment to let the day roll on without too much pushing and shoving.  While the business of art can be tough, studio work is easy.  If I could spend most of my work day in the studio I’d be very fortunate, but then all of the other important facets of my career would slide to the side ignored and trampled on. So it is what it is; a balancing act.

In an effort to avoid a new project and the leap of faith it requires to start, I’ve been immersed in color for the past couple days while painting a greeny-yellow on my living room and office walls.  It’s satisfying work. I felt it was best to get settled on my house and hearth before throwing myself down the gauntlet on a new project. Chartreuse is one of my favorite colors, so I decided to remedy the dark and dreary of January and splash some color on the walls. I moved huge rolls of drawing paper which were stacked in round tubes in the corner of my office, pulled a big cabinet of French pine and well scrubbed away from the wall and rolled the oriental rugs to the side.

One of my friends recently innocently suggested that they knew a painter who needed the work right now. I said yes, of course I would consider it. But not long though, because a house painter would be a nuisance to me more than help. I can see the look on some poor woman or man’s face as I say, nope don’t like it, I’ll be back in two hours, after I buy some more paint and haul it out of my truck. The paint freshly squeezed like lemons into the cans ready to paint. No mixing needed, the paint is still twirling around in the bright aluminum can. I’ll paint it myself.

I challenged the paint guys at the store by presenting them with a huge dried leaf of my favorite tree in the front yard, a majestic Catalpa tree whose days are numbered like us all. If bark is an indicator of age it’s been ravished by woodpeckers of every size and shape. I thought it was best to take the color of that magnificent tree and bring it into my house. They weren’t so impressed. Their new-fangled scanning equipment couldn’t even get close to the color of the leaf.  Undaunted by their lack of eye for fixing that color to a chip, I gave up took their efforts home and painted a swath on the wall. It was too much, not right, no way no how was that going to stay on the walls.  Next day I took in the linen pillow from Ikea which is close to the color. I found a chip and we played with it a bit and got was I was looking for, it’s on the wall, a color that fits this house.

But the tobacco color I asked about at Sherwin Williams wasn’t in the computer.  I thought that was strange, I wanted a tobacco color on the lower wall to call out the crop that was grown on the rocky-river edged land my house sits upon. Tobacco must be a swear word now because the color I picked out wasn’t what was printed on the chip. It’s as ‘backky as you can get. So why not call it what it is? I had some made up and I’ll paint a cabinet that needs a coat of paint, I didn’t like it on the lower wall, a bit tricky and I wasn’t feeling tricky at the moment.

I’ve ordered reindeer moss, in chartreuse, dried and gorgeous, to fill two apothecary jars which will flank each end of the fireplace. Additional color and forms will fill the jars; dried moss, artichokes, and round papier-mâché balls that I’ll color myself. Pine cones with a bluish tint natural of course will also be placed in these jars. Three hurricane vases will march down the big walnut banquet table under the chandelier.  These will carry Osage or horse apples, another variation of the chartreuse. This is a Shaker style house and the color is painted on one of their gorgeous wood structures at Pleasant Hill. I love it. So here it is and will be, color and all, what I call earthy or more so to the point, color with a dollop of mud mixed in.