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Machine Turned Back On

Sometime in October the creative skids hit hard and though I could come up with plenty of painting ideas, they seemed to dry up before they made it to canvas. I did a few photo shoots and was energized and but more often than not by the time I was ready to make a painting, the inspiration evaporated.

I abandoned the original image concept and did a pencil sketch instead. Jaela T.

I abandoned the original image concept and did a pencil sketch instead. Jaela T.

Some work made it out of that dry spell including a sketch whose inspiration was a political event that included the usual asinine behavior on the part of politicians. After doing all the work to prepare the composition I decided not to use my model in a political commentary that could expose a 13 year old girl to the antics of reactionaries. Instead, I modified it to just focus on her.

Jaela, posing for "My English Patient"

Jaela, posing for “My English Patient”

With my Lotus waiting for renewal I also thought it would be interesting to sketch out the chassis with Jaela seated on one of the tyres. (yes, I spelt it with British correctness. It is from England after all) We did two photo shoots for that purpose but in the end I decided that she’d have to be a poster girl in the shop that was depicted in the drawing instead of a central figure in the composition. I went forward, drawing the concept on Stonehenge paper that I’d bought on a roll so that I could draw large. For a drawing, it was very large, exceeding 50 inches. One of the drafting tables that I prefer for use as an easel was modified for this purpose and the sketch was it’s first project.

"My English Patient", Lotus Europa chassis, ready for rejuvenation

“My English Patient”, Lotus Europa chassis, ready for rejuvenation

I called the drawing “My English Patient” and that provoked the decision to turn Jaela into an in-sketch poster girl rather than actually leave her on the chassis tire. The viewer would be confused as to which was the patient and if it is her, then why is she so lively and happy? The chassis is the patient and got the appropriate full stage.

Parts of the drawing were excruciatingly boring to render because of the level of precision they demanded. There really was no wiggle room on the tread pattern, it had to be exact. Rarely do I need to force myself to draw as I had to on those tire treads.

To get it right, I rephotographed the tires and marked out the pattern. This, after trying ineffectively to lay out the pattern on the paper free hand.

"My English Patient" front passenger tire guide photo. Grueling to draw.

“My English Patient” front passenger tire guide photo. Grueling to draw.

The doldrums worsened as an unfortunate turn of events caused my departure from the business where I’d been employed and was taking a perfectly good wage. Too much of my time was spent going over the reasons for taking that drastic action but when I’d thought it all through I realized that the time for my exit from the company was due. It was past due, actually.

Swallowed up in the emotions of that matter, I produced little art. While the well was hardly dry, the pump needed primed. Meanwhile, I made significant progress in understanding how to wring the most value out of a photo shoot.

My father sustained serious injuries and in the early part of the year, they claimed him at age 82. He was a good man.  My mother was with him in the vehicle and is still in a wheel chair, but better.

I only produced five cartoons for the Lotus Europa site recently.

After requesting ideas from the members of the Europa mailing list with Yahoo, I found some responses to be of use.

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One fellow said that he heard someone taunt him as he rinsed  his car, “doesn’t matter how much you water that thing, it’s never going to grow any bigger”

When you can drive clear of danger, you don't need to have tanklike durability

When you can drive clear of danger, you don’t need to have tanklike durability

I did a play on the nimble nature of a fragile car to show how it can survive a pileup.

Then I chased the sometime observation that the type 74 body resembles a small 1973 El Camino. I called it the El Camini.

When you hear what you want to hear, you believe what you want to believe. And who wouldn't think a Europa is cute?

When you hear what you want to hear, you believe what you want to believe. And who wouldn’t think a Europa is cute?

Miss communication and assumptions plague relationships, so I capitalized on that. We hear what we want to hear.

Legendary, even among the aviary enthusiasts

Legendary, even among the aviary enthusiasts

What do birds think of the little car? I decided that they make game of target acquisition.


Getting back to flat art for the wall, I returned my attentions to the tree platform concept again. Until recently I hadn’t realized what it cost me. My excellent camp cot was used in a photo shoot and I accidently left it behind, so excited was I about the possibility of gold turning up in those photos. I lost the cot and still don’t have that painting, though progress has been made.

I wrote my letter of resignation from where I’d worked for 24 years in mid December, one to the company President and another to his partner. Walking away from a well paying job with no employment prospects is not a small matter to undertake, so I held on to the letters while I sorted through the motivating issues prompting me to leave. Meanwhile I pressed hard to complete projects there that I knew they would be unable to take over and get done with me gone.  Finally in early January I did the deed, but the bosses response was a complete surprise. He listened to my concerns without anger. Sometimes he would respond with this pattern, “That’s not so. (and then a pause followed by the equivalent of) how did you know?” He promised to set one of the larger issues right.

Against my better judgement I agreed to stay longer and train the bosses son, who had already been picked to take over my position anyway. In April, that was done and I presented another resignation which was rejected. Then again in early June. Also rejected. None of the issues had been fixed and I discovered that the annual 401(k) statements had not been released because “the numbers were wrong”. Alarms went off, because of prior discoveries about the funds. With that news, it didn’t matter that my resignations were dismissed as impossible. I was going. With serious concerns about the integrity of the retirement funds, I had to be out of the company to roll them into a fund I control. Nearly three months later, they’re still not released and it’s a nail biter.  I am convinced that it does not take that long to move money and have wasted countless hours trying to keep the players who are responsible to accomplish it busy accomplishing it.

Perhaps the fund has been raided. Maybe it was diverted. Maybe there never was a fund. All these thoughts are statistically improbabe, but somehow perfectly plausible from  my position. Each time I inquire, the rollover check is just about to be cut.  My hope is that the least onerous of the possibilities is the most likely: that it’s all simply a stall to squeeze as much time as possible out of the money.

Meanwhile, I’ve finally begun painting again and it feels to me that the machine is turned on, warmed up, and working as before.  With the realization that more capable powers than mine can manage the release of the retirement funds, I determined that they will handle the matter. I’ve turned my attention to what I can control. I’m in the studio.

6 year old Esther

6 year old Esther

Ava and her Prism

Ava and her Prism

This is tiny six year old Ava, playing with a prism. It’s drying and nearly done. In the unfinished painting, her face needs refined.




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