I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living. (Robert Henri)
Reaching far back into childhood memories, I fondly recall a fishing moment with my sister Helen. Eight years older than I, she was the master fisherwoman, and I was the novice. In order to secure the john boat against the outgoing current of an oxbow lake, she leaped from the bow of the boat to the muddy bank where the oxbow lake joined the Mighty Mississippi River. Instantly, her feet and lower legs vanished into the icky muddy bank.
She didn’t chuckle. She laughed. An uninhibited belly laugh emerged from her soul as she attempted to pull her feet from the muck!
I often find myself knee deep in surprise moments here in Ecuador, and following Helen’s example, I try to embrace those experiences. Trading the quiet backdrop of the river for a forlorn third-floor fixer-upper in the middle of town, I’ve been busy living a life while making a living this past week!
My friend Xavier asked for help with his new office space, and shadowing my younger Ecuadorian friend has brought me a few frustrations, but they were balanced against many chuckles.
Two days ago I heard the electrician call for Xavier, but I was too busy painting to note what he needed. I dropped my brush and bolted for the camera when I saw the above scene!
Last week, an assistant and I prepped the floor with three different layers of primer. He then helped stretch the string and chalk the lines for the faux tiles. I realized later that his heavy hand pulled against the string, which resulted in a not-so-straight line! I floated in the boundaries of each square, though some of the spaces didn’t seem ‘right.’
On Day Two, one carpenter began his tasks while marked the vanishing chalk lines. Two other workers appeared to paint the walls! Oh my! I attempted to repair the mis-drawn squares while two ‘torros’ slopped paint on the walls as larges splotches puddled on the floor.
Taping down newspapers and black plastic, they stepped through the new drips and tracked them across the prepped floor! I silently questioned their use of tape, but decided they were attempting to show more respect for the prepped floors. I asked them to be more careful with the drips, and they shrugged and said that the walls should have been painted first!
An upside down plastic trash barrel served as their ladder, and it pressed through the newsprint and left black smudges of ink on the floor! During all of that time, I focused on my work and often times forgot they were in the room! I wasn’t too happy when they pulled up the tape and a splotch of prepped floor pulled away from the cement! A repair job was in my future!
Deciding these little accidents were all trivial, I blocked all of this out and resumed my work! I later told Xavier that I had learned a valuable lesson. I’d charge one price to paint a floor and would ask double that price if any assistants showed up to help with the project!
Day Three was spent blissfully alone after Xavier helped correct and re-chalk the boundaries for each tile! He also helped fill in color in some of the tiles. Each tile required four or so ‘washes’ of color.
Day Four – A road trip to purchase a special varnish for floors/pisos… The road trip is a story all in its own! That evening I worked late to finish the floor.
Day Five – People found their way to the third floor to peer at the magical tiles as we prepared to brush the first varnish on the floor.
Day Six – (Today) – Clocking out for two days with Ecuador Expat Journey Tour. Will be back online this weekend!
My friend Lesli commented recently, “We want you to take time for yourself…but we think that is exactly what you do with your art!”
Thanks, Amiga. How lucky I am that my art brings so much joy into my life! It might not bring material riches, though it fills my soul with a much-more valuable wealth!
Thanks again, everyone, for your support while I remain mute to the many wonderful comments you leave. I’ve been online about four hours for the entire week!
It’s time to shut down the computer and step to the malecon to greet the tour bus which should be rolling to a stop any minute!
From the “malecon” in Pedernales, Ecuador,