building stretchers, old paintings, and hand prints

2011 July 11
by Lorna

My least favorite job is building stretchers. The corners have to be exactly right-angled and there are 6 paintings to build. I got three corners perfect and then one is off. I fix that one and the others are off. Finally all corners are perfect. That job done, I will next put on corners and braces; easy, because these are a mere 40 X 50″. For 35 years I worked 66 X 74″ because that was the size when I reached my arms out. Most of these paintings are now collecting dust in the racks. (Only Corporations and Banks have purchased some). I like working small other than for practical reasons anyhow. (I can make the space in a small painting as wide and open and deep as on a big canvas).

I had to move many of my 66 X 74″ paintings in the lower part of the barn in order to stop rain from coming in by casting concrete against the rock foundation. I want to burn the paintings; they take up space, are heavy, collect dust, and remind me how hard I worked from a place that no longer exists for me now. Seeing these paintings again makes me realize how much my spirit has shifted, how many life times I have lived, to be painting the paintings I am now painting. The painting flows as the search continues; I don’t waste paint like I used to, (even though I still am a ‘scraper.’ I reuse what I scrape, ‘cooling down’ or ‘warming up’ what looks like mud).

I made the discovery of three hand prints on my mirror of my 3 year old grand niece’s hands. I myself did this as a child, and as a traveler, have seen hand prints from different cultures as a way of expression  to mark territory, in Honduras, (of which I have photographs on the walls of peoples’ homes in the Garifuna communities), in South Africa in the Townships, in Australian Aboriginal paintings, and they also exist in North African homes. My own hand prints are embedded in concrete all around my house, on steps and walls. I shall not wash the mirror. It probably means that the culprit will end up spending a lot of time here in this house.

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