|collection of last 15 which were finished by May 24th|
Here I am, at three in the morning on my spousal support unit’s birthday, on the eighty-seventh monthiversary of our first meeting, on the cusp of our fifth wedding anniversary, and although I probably won’t post this until Friday or Saturday, I can say forthrightly and honestly that I’ve completed what I set out to do. All ninety paintings are complete, or so close to readiness that everything from here on is in the nature of tweaking, of preserving, of preparing for centuries of happy viewing.
This final stage of the process has combined some of the greatest challenges of the entire project with elements of the most sublime enjoyment of the whole span. Here’s what that means. I’ve had all four-score-and-ten of the compositions underway for nearly ten days now. Earlier panels often were one-a-day, two-a-day, or even a three-a-day propositions. At most, I might have taken a couple of days to reinterpret Turner’s genius on the beautiful wood that has proved such a sturdy and lovely foundation for this effort.
Here recently, though, for fifteen days or so, I’ve had to focus more and more exclusively on the twenty layered paintings, which means that concluding in a single sitting has been impossible. I was really leery about how to get through this final lap; thank heavens for spousal-support-units who have logistical minds. Jimbo pointed out to me that, so long as I had everything underway with ten days or so to spare, I could labor along on three or more ‘washes’ each day.
And that’s what I’ve done. Always in these last couple of weeks, I’ve queued up three or more panels and have had sort of a primitive assembly-line in operation. Later today, after I’ve finished scribbling, read a little more of the Victorian literary narratives that have happenstantially been a part of our lives over the past few months, and gotten some sleep, I’ll put a few finishing flourishes on the five or six pieces that remain in need of one more coat.
In other words, I will have done what I promised. What it all means, or whether it has any more than personal significance remains for us to discover.
Certainly, for both my dear spousal support unit and me, the sense of a monumental learning experience has powerfully marked the whole shebang, as they say. Who would have thought that I could learn the practicalities of indirect painting in such a thorough way? Who would have thought that I’d garner so much insight about color and light and perspective while slaving away? Who would have believed that J.M.W. Turner would end up seeming such a fascinating fellow? A radical and maybe a revolutionary; a non-conformist and ‘wild March hare;’ a shrewd businessman who wanted to give his fortune away; a man who eschewed conventional relationships but lived blissfully in sin with his mistresses while creating a body of erotica that may have been even more substantial than the hundreds of salacious sketches and other works of sin that have survived?
I take this opportunity to acknowledge all those who have helped to make this possible. All of my KickStarter supporters, family and friends, random strangers awestruck at the daunting prospect of accomplishing this feat, contributed their own piece-of-the-puzzle, so to speak. Thanks are always inadequate, but thanks are always in order.
I will keep writing here for at least a while longer. I have ideas for a survey of my readers and anyone else who has participated in some way.
I also want to ask for advice. Can anyone offer pearls of wisdom—I vow to try to insure that no one ‘casts them before swine!’—about what to do now?
We’re definitely going to stain and fix all of the individual wooden ‘canvases.’ We’d like to sell the entire lot, for enough money to support a similar venture of some kind for a year. We’ve thought about starting to tour the entire set, on learning that campuses sometimes make provisions for wandering minstrels, artists, and like creators, making stipends and other inducements available that might make such a process feasible.
Anyhow, I feel myself fading. Dawn is not far off. Jane Austen is whispering to me; after Framley Parsonage, I’ve taken a step away from sophistication into the realm of psychology and romance that serves as a bedrock of much literature of a certain sort in the modern era. Art ever beckons to the aristocrats and adventurers in these tales.
Maybe I shall find a pathway that permits me, on a sustainable basis, to engage the world in that fashion. I’m hoping that such will prove to be the case in any event. I wake each day with the notion resonating inside me: “You were meant to do this.” Whatever the case may be, again, thanks to all who supported me. Bend comforting thoughts my way in the days ahead that, inevitably, will feel a little empty in the aftermath of such a rigorous passage.