Monday, July 5, 2010

Sign Painter I Ain't...

Emu Eggs
To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.  ~Schumann
The artist gazes upon a reality and creates his own impression.  The viewer gazes upon the impression and creates his own reality.  ~Robert Brault,

Moose Shed
I will paint or draw on anything.  Not because I am versatile, but because I can't resist a blank surface.  If I were in a different time or culture I might  have painted on cave walls by firelight or hung upside down to paint graffiti on an overpass.  The upper picture is of emu eggs (they're about 6 inches high) that I was asked to do for a fund-raiser.  I am especially pleased with the landscape that covers the entire egg.  The other is, of course, a moose antler.

But I'm not a sign painter.  I was asked to create signs for a yard sale recently, which I did with some struggle.  People often think I am the perfect choice for painting signs because I am an artist.  Uh, excuse  me?  But making signs requires math, rulers and  geometry, and I am totally right-brained, meaning you don't want to trust me to balance your bank book, or measure a piece of lumber to be cut.  And you darned sure don't want me to cut it!  While I can make the letters of the sign pretty colors, and maybe even make a pleasing design, the positioning of the letters is frustrating.

 I often get roped into sign-making projects.  I remember one very bad experience.  I had painted a sign on the side of Hubby's car for his business--just on the front doors.  It wasn't easy but it turned out well with pictures on it.  It also took me a long time.  A man who owned an ice business saw it and wanted a sign painted on the side of his building.  I agreed to do it.  He said that just he wanted simple block letters.  I worked very hard on the design for the huge sign.   I spent a day in the West Texas summer sun standing on top of a cab over camper laying out the sign--hating every second of it.  Towards the end of the afternoon when I had started painting the letters, the owner saw it and started yelling at me and told me it was not what he wanted and for me not to finish it and to collect my money and to get the hell off his property.  I was so embarrassed, but he didn't give me a chance to finish or discuss how it could be better--in short, he was a jerk. I was so humiliated, I didn't even pick up my pay.  He painted over my work and hired someone else to paint another sign--that sign remained there for years to taunt me.  That ended my sign painting career and even today when I am asked to paint a sign, I get a clutch in the gut. A sign painter I ain't.


  1. Always a delight to read your notes Maxie. You are certainly able to send..."send light into the darkness of men's hearts" Many thanks