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Robert Delaunay: Paysage au disque (1906–07)
" … a final fit of preparation before the legacy begins."

I noticed as I was finishing applying the first coat of paint on our newly installed living room window's exterior, that I had spent more time preparing to paint the window than I had spent painting the window. This tends to be the case with most home improvement activities, yet I don't usually focus very much attention on the preparation, more often perceiving it as a distraction from the real operation rather than the lion's share of it. Like many, I suspect, I don't have much stomach for prep work. It often seems tedious. It produces little lasting effect, its chief benefit being what it lends to the final result, but it leaves few if any footprints. It's enduring value falls under The Dog That Didn't Bark category and gets lost in rounding.

Yesterday, i was Taping the window trim I was intending to paint, this to reduce the likelihood that I'd slop the paint color where I didn't want it.
Taping often fails to produce the desired result. Failures seem common, yet I almost always insist upon taping up my targets rather than trusting my eye and hand. Kurt Our Painter almost never employs tape. He seems to casually cut a line between colors and edges without ever violating intended spaces. His cut lines amaze and fascinate me. I can't really see how he manages to produce these. They seem a form of magic, but then I remain a casual painter, not a professional. Casual bakers use recipes, measuring cups and spoons. The Muse uses a scale. Professionals use handfuls and pinches more precise than the most accurate scale or measuring cup. As a casual, sometimes baker, I can report that my failures are common, perhaps because I have little sense of my eye or hand where baking's concerned, and taping's not really possible there.

Taping done, I begin painting, sensing that the result will prove disappointing. Is this evidence that I'm developing a sense about this painting business? Might it have been possible for me to cut the necessary lines without the training wheel Taping? A time sometimes comes for removing the jigs, for at least attempting to play in the big leagues. Does anyone ever know when that time's arrived or must it necessarily remain speculative until proven otherwise? My Taping might have been more ritual than essential. It might represent a habit more than a reasonable caution. It could have been unnecessary preparation, the biggest waste of treasure and time. Kurt taught me to paint with a wet rag in one hand for immediate use should paint land where I don't want it. I easily wipe away every trace of my accidents and no one's ever the wiser. It's rare that I don't need to clean up at least one unintended whenever I'm painting, whenever I'm living. It's a daily occurrence for me, painting or not.

I imagine that everything I've done so far in my life was elaborate preparation, Taping up the object of my current attention. I draw from considerable experience, but much of it practice prepping. I've probably spent much more time preparing my elaborate preparation than I've spent doing anything else. I might reasonably consider myself to have become a preparation specialist, my oeuvre lost to history like all preparation must be. The set-up was the joke. The context was the purpose. The Taping removed before the coat was even dry, with a few glaring failures evident then. I always have to come back again with the tiny brush to touch up what I couldn't prevent, a final fit of preparation before the legacy begins.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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