My wife Connie and I started dating in October (year not included intentionally). We had a fast and serious courtship. She chased me till I caught her, or vice-versa, according to which one of us you ask.
Although we lived a little more than a stones throw from each other for years, even riding the same school bus, we had little relations other than my occasional request to borrow her bicycle. She was a few years younger than me and attended junior high school, while I was already in high school.
I had moved to Virginia one winter and returned in the summer. Later the same year, I ran into her on Halloween night to find that she had grown to full stature and we have been together ever since.
As previously connoted, we started dating in the fall, so naturally, the holiday season was soon upon us and it was time to begin thinking of a gift for my girlfriend. Although we were several years apart in age we had both taken art classes in high school, even from the same teacher, the wonderful Mrs. Moore, who by the way, drove a new but now iconic, Hurst Olds.
Connie, I thought, was really into her art, so I proceeded to find the perfect gift in that vein. I soon located what I considered to be the coolest portable artist box. It was all aluminum, with rivets, armored corners and a removable metal paint pallet, and included lots of room for paints and brushes.
So, come Christmas, I delightfully handed her her present and she handed me mine. Well, me being a dumb, practical guy, forgot that romance should have been the order of the day in selecting the perfect gift for the perfect girlfriend. The reaction was not bad, but was not what I expected. She on the other hand presented me with a wonderful, exquisitely engraved, silver pocket watch. I’ll come back to the box and watch a little later.
We courted a total of nine months before we married, but in those months we both had entered college together, majoring in art related subjects, and even taking many of the same classes and sitting together.
I went on to do other things and my art fell by the wayside but Connie always painted. I had become a police officer and in order to supplement my income I had taken up a side line of remodeling and construction and it was going well. Connie enjoyed helping because she loved to see things change for the better. Connie also had commissioned projects and I would help out with layout work or would even build custom furniture pieces and Connie would apply finishes and hand painted embellishments.
There were countless times that Connie would stay up all hours of the night painting while I snored away. When she had her paints out and the unction was present, no one could make her stop. She thrived on seeing the finished product, that is, whenever she could convince herself that she was indeed finished.
After tiring of the ten years of police work, I took on another job in the medical field. One year, Connie had made reservations for her first ever SALI convention which was to be held in Houston, TX. I agreed to go.
So, off to Houston for the convention for the two of us, and into a whole new world for me. Connie had scheduled for us to attend a couple of lectures, one of them in particular being by Gary Lord. As the lecture progressed and others in the room began sharing, an enlightenment came upon my understanding. I was hearing artist after artist talking about their drive and sleepless nights in their studios, not for the purpose of monetary compensation but for the joy of having the creative juices flow and end result thereof.
At this point I actually stood up in the lecture and blurted out that I had just been enlightened to the fact that my artistically driven, sleep deprived wife was in fact NORMAL in the entire scheme of things!
Fast forward to today….our studio is not connected to the house, therefore when she paints, I seldom even see her when there is a project that has the unction upon it….. that is, unless she calls me over for one of the many short sessions to photograph the work in progress.
Right now, I am documenting, photographically, her latest obsession with a trompe l’oeil luna moth sitting on an old board covered in faux lichens. I must say that it has turned out to be what I would say is her best ‘trompe’ ever.
In research I have found some interesting correlations between the moth and the artistically driven, LUNA-TIC artists, if I may be permitted to make such a twist in terms. The caterpillar is solitary, the moth emerges from it’s cocoon in the morning, the moth does not eat and the moth is rarely seen.
Oh yeah, in closing …. I said I would get back to the artist box that I had given her as a gift. We recently cleaned out and relinquished a rented storage building that we had for many years. In going through it, we found the box that had been tucked away for years, whose removable palette now sports globs of dried oil paints. It is now in the studio. As I began writing yesterday, Connie went to the bedroom and returned holding the silver pocket watch, still ticking and runs like charm even after having made a jaunt through the clothes washer AND dryer a couple decades ago.
OK, OK….. we traded the gifts in 1975!!!