Painting Rain


I painted “Rain” in a three-day blur of tequila and sinus medication. I knew I was living the stereotype of a New Yorker cartoon, and relished it. It felt like the my last chance, my only chance. I was nineteen years old and living above a garage, and the sounds of clanking wrenches and air compressors sounded almost musical, but a dirge… heavy, sometimes melodic, and slightly off-key. The apartment was hot and smelled like grease and tar. It rained for days and there were gasoline rainbows in the puddles. I was aching with homesickness and abandonment. I decided to paint. I knew it was inevitable. Photography was a big part of my life, but it was like a girlfriend I couldn’t quite commit to marrying. I wanted the passion elsewhere. So I set my Brownie aside, spent every nickel I had, and bought two canvasses and a cheap set of oil paints. And, of course, the tequila. I wanted to start in a drunken whirlwind, dismiss the doubt, and pour everything into a well. If there was any talent, it would show. If not… well, I still had the camera. I was good with it and it was good to me. I wasn’t starving yet.

Painting. It scared the hell out of me, but in a good way. I didn’t know what I was doing, only what I wanted to do. The wet texture, the blind, drunken courage, the colors. And so I painted. An exhilarating terror. I could still hear the garage sounds, still smell the ruined perfume of the rain, still felt the sweat glued to my arms and chest, but it was distant, a clouded dream, a haze of impermanence. I approached the first canvas like a shy suitor, and then the tequilla grabbed hold of my guts. In my mind, I was in inside the paint and surrounded by it, lost inside a bare room, living inside a field of cabbages and hard rain. I painted until drink overcame desire.


from Family Anatomy – A work in progress


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