Tube of Oil Paint
oil on canvas, 12x16
collection the artist
I was about 7 years old, living in Newton, Massachusetts. Across the street lived an Italian family. I remember them well because the Danforth family spaghetti sauce recipe is the result of the afternoon in which my mother watched their mother make a tomato based pasta sauce.
One sunny Saturday morning, I found the father of this Italian household sitting on the curb in front of his house, painting the side of a taxi. Before decals and computers, all business names and phone numbers were hand painted onto a vehicle. Well, there he was, without a stencil, carefully stroking each letter with a soft, pointed brush. His arm swooped up and down applying the paint, then sideways and down into the small jars of color. It was much like watching an orchestra conductor working on a piece of classical music.
This intrigued me. His hand was so steady. His concentration so intense. I watched for quite some time, until my inquisitive little-child presence drove him to shoosh me away.
Until that moment, I had never seen another person paint. I did not know that you could do something so fun and do it even on the side of a car. My paint-by-number sets were no longer interesting. I asked for, and received, my first real art supplies, including oil paints, shortly after this incident.
I still enjoy watching another artist paint. To watch his or her process, often so different than my own, is like watching a mystery unfold. I never grow tired of it.