For ten years I’d stay up all night, lost in the paint. I worked in an upscale steakhouse in Las Vegas - appearances were important. Every afternoon around 2 I’d start trying to scrub all of the paint off of my hands and out of my nails. At work I’d laugh and ask my boss if he had any idea how awful it was to be deep in a creative process, only to go to great lengths to get all of the paint off of my hands, scrubbing them raw to look presentable, so I could look how the company wants me to look when I’m selling shrimp?
I was always creative about my complaining - as annoying as I must have been, at least my delivery was original from time to time. And I got that karma back ten folds when I became a manager for a short time. Anyway.
This year I am enrolled in a class with my master teacher. Our groups are assigned various things to watch, read or analyze to find how the work of our course comes through metaphorically in the content assigned. One of our first assignments was to watch Maudie, a movie I had never heard of.
That day specifically I had just mailed my very first painting to New York City. It is still very surreal that the amount of people that buy my art buy my art. What makes it more real to me are all of the places each painting goes to live. Manhattan just felt like a career high to me that day. After my fedex man picked it up, the dogs were done going ballistic - I sat down to watch Maudie.
I didn’t have the slightest clue what it was about. I watched a story of a woman unfold. She was seemingly damaged beyond repair. Dubbed disabled. When she was upset or very hurt she would pull out her paint and start painting.
48x36 Acrylic, Resin Coated.
The movie is a film biography of Maud Lewis, one of the most beloved folk artists of the 20th century. The story focuses on the indomitable spirit that some people possess even when faced with horrendous turns of fate. There is a scene when a woman says “Maud. How about you paint me whatever you want, and when you’re done, send it to me in New York City.”
To see a feeling I had just experienced at such a deep level being acted out so specifically how it felt for me was one of the most indescribable experiences I’ve ever had. It dawned on me as I watched that film that all of those years of scrubbing the paint off of my hands so I could go to work and look right -
Somewhere in a film studio, there was a crew of makeup artists that put all of that paint on the lead characters' hands every day so that they could film this movie. The movie had a 6 million dollar budget, and it made 9 million.
That realization was a bright spot for me. Maybe all of these years I’ve done something right - even if it looked like madness most of the time. I don’t have to wash the paint off of my hands or out of my hair anymore to go to work- because that is my work. The courage and desperation I was given to start this business, grow it and maintain were all gifts that I didn’t send back unopened.
So I named this painting Maudie. Because long may each of us have those moments of identification and clarity within a miraculous shift of circumstances. Long may they be bright spots and every color, lighting the path through.