“Capturing a nincompoop”
BACKYARD – It would be nice if we had a ceiling fan on the back porch. It’s not going to happen, though, because Kay said that the wasps and spiders would take it over. I told her I doubt that because wasps and spiders don’t like to live near one another. -- Ah. That’s what she said. “Ah.” That’s short for “I hate it when you do that.”
Kay is standing by the flower garden, pulling and poking at stuff. A few seconds ago she mentioned how the flowers in her hanging basket, close up at night. I asked her what they were, and she mumbled, “Port Lavaca.” I know that’s not what she said, but I’ve quit asking her to repeat stuff. I wish she’d show me the same courtesy.
I am at the stage where I refuse to believe I’m hard of hearing. Everyone else just mumbles. It’s mostly cashiers, waiters and the children who take your order at fast-food places. Yep, everybody is trying to make me look like a nincompoop.
Unfortunately, I recently helped ‘em do it. Actually, Kay did. She’s the one who helped build a case for my nimcompooedness, by giving me my first lesson in watercolors. Let’s flashback a month. Remember me telling you about Kay taking an art class taught by Conroe High’s art teacher, Jaime Landry? After the four-day session, Kay came home with a sheet of art paper that expressed three different phases of her life. She painted portraits of herself as a child, as middle-aged and as nowaday-aged.
The largest of the portraits doesn’t have much detail and is more of an impressionistic piece. She first sketched herself from a photo without looking at the paper on which she was drawing. If I may borrow the words of a Sicilian character in a Fairy Tale -- “That’s inconceivable!” Yet, in the finished portrait, I can definitely discern some of Kay’s features, but more than her looks, she managed to capture her personality. If you don’t know Kay, you’ll think it a bad likeness. I see the character of Kay. She’s a doll.
About three weeks after the art class, I told Kay that I wanted to draw a portrait of me without looking at what I was drawing. She left my study and came back 45 minutes later. “I’m ready,” she said. I followed her into the dining room to see an assortment of paints, brushes and drawing paper atop the table. The girl had gone to way too much trouble for what I had in mind.
I told her I didn’t want to draw from a photograph, I wanted merely to look at my face in a mirror and draw my likeness without looking at the paper. You’re not going to believe it, but when I finished my sketch it looked scary. My chin was actually to the right of the rest of my face. I couldn’t even find my nose or eyes. I told Kay that I didn’t know what I was supposed to learn from the experience, but it pretty well ruined me for art.
So, I grabbed another sheet of paper and sketched my portrait while looking at what I was doing. For the most part, it was laughable, but you could still see some features of Mark in it. If you’ve got a beard and a big nose, it’s easier to draw yourself. Wait, not easy, just less hard. The watercolor part is inconceivable.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but when you stick a paint brush into a dab of colored water, and touch it to the paper the color runs all over the place. Where the brush first meets paper, the color runs. It is darkest at the point of contact, but with every move of the brush it gets lighter. You have to continually go back and make the color look even. Sometimes you don’t want it to look even. You just make some random splotches on different parts of the paper. Here is where you really need some artistic talent.
At one point Kay told me that I was drowning the cat. I thought it was another instance where I misheard what she said. As a joke, I repeated the words as I had heart them. “Right, no cat drowning,” I said. She told me that leaving your brush in the water is referred to as “Drowning the cat.” It does something to the brush. I chose not to listen to the explanation, because it was about cats.
I was not at all impressed with my finished product. However, Kay was thrilled with the painting. Right now it’s framed and sitting on a table in the living room. I’ll include a picture of the painting on my blog, so you can judge for yourself. If you don’t know me, you’ll think the portrait hideous. If you truly know me, you’ll see that I pretty well captured the real me. Inside and out, I’m a nincompoop. Kay says I’m her nincompoop. Isn’t that sweet?
Mark can be contacted at email@example.com. Visit http://markhayterscolumn.blogspot.com/ for a chronological read of past articles. You may visit Amazon Books to order Mark’s novel, “The Summer of 1976.”