Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Good hand.

Interesting things are happening.

After arriving home from a short mother/daughter stint in Minneapolis, I felt the need to exorcise an artistic demon. For days I have been tucked into my usual spot at the light table, drawing, drawing, drawing. Hungrily drawing, hungrily scanning, blah blah blah. With an interesting turn of events, my social life has gone tits up and I am one hundred percent okay with this. My hands continue to smell of fresh herbs after I come home from work and over the course of a few hours spent printing, they take on an irrevocable odor from the solvent room. A one eighty in terms of smells, from basil to turpentine. If my life continues to smell of fresh basil or fresh turpentine, I am okay with that. My dad smells like sawdust and an old sweater plucked from the furnace room, my mum smells like fresh white buns and paint, my sister smells like Marc Jacobs and that newness of retail, my brother like fresh laundry and paperwork. I want to smell like herbs and the ink cupboard. Yesterday with all of this in mind, I settled into my usual table top position in the basement at the studio and blew through a new six color piece I am working on while watching a letterpress class unfold dead in front of me. I carried someone in thought while I worked and maybe this sparked something to life inside of me that has been in hibernation or in hiding for a long time. Regardless of how or who or what or why, it affected me deeply in a positive way. The complexity of the registration was a non issue, and that was a first. Maybe seeing life in lines and being drawn towards structured living is a good path. It is definitely a new path.

Register, generous ink, flood, place paper, wipe, register, pull, remove, drying rack, repeat. Two hundred odd pulls in three hours, one apple juice, one coffee, two screens, six colors, fourteen eyeballs stealing glances in my noisy direction, and one rewarding conversation while inspecting my finished product at the drying rack with the most charming British woman I have ever met. While my head was cocked distractedly caught in my own universe, self-involved but not in a disgusting way, body bent a touch at the hips unnaturally towards the glaring florescent lights in order to scrutinize my work better, new apron wild with smeared color, this beautiful older woman sidled up beside me sporting a haggard cast and some noteworthy jewels.

"I have been watching you", she says gently, testing the waters and charming me completely with her dainty accent. "Oh really? What do you think?" I respond, holding this new print at an arm's length. "I smell a story behind this one. Are you wooing someone?", she prods eyeing the print in my hands, as I watch mesmerized as her shoulders dip in embarrassment at her own boldness. "You are a wise woman. Would you like a tour of the studio?" "Oh. Oh yes please". As she says this I grab her arm without thinking and put a bunch of supplies in her good hand, both of us instantly warm considering our happenstance meeting only moments before. I give her a tour of the studio and she listens with girl scout attentiveness in spite of our vast age difference. When we go back downstairs to my work station I offer her a piece, the last layer still tacky from printing. Her eyes light up.

"Take it back home with you, please"
. She accepts, and we together we wrap it in brown paper and as she hands me pieces of scotch tape with her good hand, we exchange stories of our lives as I finish wrapping it as gingerly as if it were baby Maiya: first my reasoning behind this new print, the story behind the tiny white dots, my eyes light up at all the good parts; and then her explaining her life in Essex with her new grandson named Bernard (the name sounded beautiful in her British accent: Bernard Rolph) and her love for Winnipeg in winter, her eyes light up at all the good parts. It was the breath of fresh air that I was desperately in need of.

I will never forget her good hand. In retrospect, it was a lesson on warmth and also the approach of strangers that I was not aware I needed. It was a lesson on openness, and our interaction together--all of twenty odd minutes long--was a gentle reminder of all of the lovely people I have met through my time spent at Martha street. "You want to do this" she said, stating the obvious more as a fact in lieu of a question. This sureness in her voice was a deafening reminder of what I want. "I want this, yes. Very much so". "I can tell. It is not about the money, is it?" "God no". God no. I want this very much.

But before that, I have things to do, trees to plant, boxes to pack, rugs to roll, leases to sign (off), Czechvar to drink.


  1. You articulate warmth and human connections in words like nobody else.

  2. "it was a lesson on warmth and also the approach of strangers that I was not aware I needed. It was a lesson on openness, and our interaction together."

    i live for these random connections. some of the most fufulling (in that most random of ways)and most revealing conversations I have had have been with people I don't know.