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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The gifts of 2007

Happy New Year, everybody!

And now it can be told: the story of the Gifts of 2007!

Every year lately I've been either creating or assembling highly personal gifts for my friends at work. In 2003 I gave out hand-painted wooden ornaments; in 2004 the gifts were Sea Monkeys; in 2005 I hand-finished wooden boxes (perfect for holding gift cards!); and last year, noting that "money is extra-tight this year", I assembled gift bags containing a variety of small items.

Little did I know what would happen a little over two months later.

Money was extra extra tight this year. Actually, it didn't seem as bad as last year; I think six months of being out of work forced me to develop a better discipline when it came to discretionary spending, or perhaps a more relaxed attitude to having less than five figures in reserve cash sitting around. And my work group was shattered and scattered, and my new group is both not the sort to do gift exchanges and totally variable in personnel from one day to the next.

I meet with some of my friends from work about once a month for dinner, and we had a Christmas dinner scheduled a few weeks ago. We do a gift exchange there, and I decided I would create a personal gift to pass out there. But what? And what could I do that wouldn't break the bank?

And then it struck me: I could give away my paintings.

Well, not give them away, exactly. But I did have high-resolution scans of all of them saved on my computer, scans that had survived (at considerable cost) the collapses and failures and infections that have plagued my computers in the last year. Well...almost all of them. One had never been scanned, and was on display in another location - Fun-Tacked to the wall of my bedroom in my house. (Hey, baby, wanna come upstairs and see my paintings?) I would print the paintings out on cardstock, write up an index, maybe some explanatory text for each one, and package them up somehow.

Easier said than done. I had the cardstock, but I needed to buy new ink cartridges - the ones in my printer were nearly spent. I wrote up the index and an introduction (included below), but couldn't decide on how to package them. I bought some gift boxes that were about the right size, but didn't like the thought of having the prints rattling around loose inside. Finally I found some folders that looked right (Oxford Viewfolio Pocket Portfolios, Burgundy, item #57443, ). They had a window in the front for a title sheet, so I gave the collection a title based on a peculiarity in my painting habits (explained below): Sometimes in March. (This is also a reference to the title of a movie about the Rwandan genocide that we worked on shortly before our group was dismantled, Sometimes in April.) As a bonus, the folders were individually packaged in resealable little clear plastic pouches, which made for a nice presentation.

As I said, every one of these paintings had been previously scanned except one. And every one of these scanned paintings - eight of them - had previously appeared in this blog, along with explanations and reference photos, where they existed. I scanned the last painting, which required downloading new XP-compatible software for my seven-year-old scanner and running a new USB cable directly into the PC. The painting is my only one done from a still-life model and is called Three Daffodils.

Three Daffodils
March 23, 2004

Keen-eyed students of art or fans of Van Gogh will, of course, recognize the similarity to Van Gogh's Fourteen Sunflowers - particularly in the way we both did lopsided, asymmetrical vases.

Fourteen Sunflowers
Vincent Van Gogh
37" x 28 1/4"

(This is one of several versions of this painting that he did.) There are differences, of course. Van Gogh worked in oils, I worked in acrylics; he did fourteen sunflowers in a brass or ceramic vase, I did three daffodils in a glass vase with green glass marbles; his painting was fairly huge, while mine was quite tiny; and he was a crazy but brilliantly talented artist, while I'm some yutz who got a set of acrylic paints for Christmas a few years ago.

So there you have it: the gifts of 2007!

Here is the introductory text, as well as the index text and links to the blog posts that included the paintings.


For whatever reason, I can only paint in March. (One of these paintings was actually created on February 26, but that's close enough.) The working theory is that in March, the toils of the Winter are mostly in the past, while the ground is not yet ready for gardening. The world is in an in-between stage, not frozen solid as in Winter, but not yet showing the first signs of budding of Spring. And I become impatient with nature, and turn to my own acts of creation.

Nine paintings so far. Four in 2004, one in 2005, and four more in 2007 - three of them in a single day. Most of these paintings have appeared on my blog, though Three Daffodils was never even scanned until a week or so ago. (This is my least favorite painting - and the only one that is hanging in my bedroom. Go figure.)

Back when I had an office I had some prints of these paintings hanging on my wall. People would stop by, sometimes, and just stare at the paintings. I think sometimes they were losing themselves in them, escaping from the workday world into the blurred, splotchy world of my paintings. I'm printing these for you so you can do that, too, wherever and whenever you like.

Each painting is reproduced actual size. I've included an index listing the titles I gave the paintings when I painted them, as well as the dates and sizes. All paintings were originally done in acrylics on pre-primed canvas board.

Royal Highness with Hips
March 7, 2004

Rosebush and Evergreen
March 20, 2004

Rock of Cashel, March 2003
March 20, 2004
painting - source photo - story

Three Daffodils
March 23, 2004

Yellow Brick Road, Nanticoke
February 26, 2005

Yellow Brick Road, Past Peak, November 12, 2005
March 15, 2007

Galtees from Anglesboro, Kilmallock (1)
March 15, 2007
(These are actually the Galty Mountains, so this title is technically wrong, as is the next one. I'm not sure what the plural of "Galty" is, or how the name for the mountains as a group is spelled.)

Galtees from Anglesboro, Kilmallock (2)
March 15, 2007

Rosebush, First Day of Spring
March 26, 2007


anne said...

What a lovely personal gift.

And I really like the idea of painting in March - it does make sense. One of these days I will get inspired enough to pick up my paintbrush once again. That is, the paint brush that is geared a little more toward the canvas as opposed to the plaster wall or woodwork. I miss it so much.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

What a thoughtful and wonderful gift!