…when I really wanted to be an artist.
What I Really Wanted to Be Was an Artist
Things like that don’t happen over night, so after university I got a small job, nothing too taxing, certainly not well-paid.
My tasks were menial ones, but I didn’t mind. My colleagues paid me the generous complaint that I was too qualified for the type of work, but it really didn’t matter to me. My mind was entirely on painting, and I used to think of the three-day job as simply a matter of holding my breath until I could return to my canvases and breathe again. To put it another way, the work I did in the office had no relevance to who I was.
I had the intention of staying in that job for just a few months, long enough to pay off a few nagging debts and bring my savings up a little. In the meantime, I would invest my spare time into my true vocation. I felt 6 months would be long enough to see me through.
The trouble was, I settled in. I got tangled up in a dependable income, and in the end it took me over 8 years to leave.
The Story of Waiting
Before I got my job, I was living at home with my parents. It was many years ago now.
I enjoyed my parents’ company, because they are wonderful people, but even so, I liked to spend as much time as possible in the garage. In this space, I began painting on bigger canvases, and experimenting with new ways of applying the paint.
I also learnt to construct the canvases myself. I built the wooden frames, and ordered a big roll of what is called duck canvas — a name that has nothing to do with water-foul but comes from the Dutch word doek, meaning linen cloth. I learnt to fasten the cloth along the edges of the frames I had built, folding in the corners as neatly as I could, using a staple gun to pin the canvas.
The next stage was the most rewarding: when the cloth is coated in a mixture of water and glue, it contracts like denim and tightens itself over the frame as it dries. I found this miraculous every time. Drumming my fingers on the taut material, I loved to hear the deep vibrations singing back at me, the consenting murmur of a blank canvas. Then I got out my paintbrushes.