Sunday, October 30

gray, grey, payne, pain

payne's grey or gray

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I'm fortunate to work in a building full of artists. Yesterday I grabbed one of my new pieces and went down the hall to ask A Real Painter: "What color is this?" I was betting on Payne's Grey but did not lead the witness. He look perplexed for a moment then said "Payne's Grey." Then he explained that at his other job he has to guess ahead and gauge if the person wants to know if it is merely black, blue, gray, or something more subtle, so he was assessing his audience. Everybody got what they wanted. Plus I got to borrow a tube of paint for a real-live sample.

But. Yuck. Right now my building is mostly a source of consternation for me — for reasons too inflammatory/distracting to detail here. It's the standard stuff: life is unfair, people are complicated, organizations with more clout/money do what they want while other people are denied. But it has me feeling like I've been punched in the gut. I'm taken aback by just how strong this sensation is.

Here's the thing: I need to like my building. The building is where I connect with other people who know what Payne's Grey is. Within that my studio is the dedicated, sacred space where I make things. I need some baseline agreement that this place is, for the most part, set aside for making art, and will be amenable to the peculiarities that come with that. Heck, it might even be supportive. At the very least I need to not feel sabotaged. And right now I feel sabotaged. It feels bad.

In my head, where all the trouble starts, I am trying to tell myself that I moved into this place eight years ago with no expectations. Can't I just dial that back? Can't this just be a room I pay for by the square foot and nothing more? *pats silly head on the head* Poor head. My head still thinks logic can rule the day. Even when talking about making art.

If I'm adding meaning to things as an artist, summoning objects into the physical world that have meaning, then meaning matters, right? That's the deal, right? Meaning matters. Intention matters. Relationships matter. Support matters. It's what I've chosen. More specifically: it's what I've chosen over other things that are probably no longer available as options. It's — and yes this gets a bit dramatic — literally what I have staked my life on. I have cut off other paths that now cannot be walked down. I have forged myself into this person who makes things that matter — even with all its inherent paradoxes  — so if I don't double down on that, what am I left with? Frankly, logic isn't even making any helpful offers.

Younger Helen would have already fired up A Righteous Anger and stomped off to Elsewhere feeling great about Being Right but sacrificing lots of other good stuff for that feeling. (Honestly I have no regrets in that regard.) But Older Helen doesn't want that to be the only choice, wants to choose battles wisely, and wants to hope it can still be okay here. Because for one thing, I've got Important Owl Shit to do and would like to just keep doing that.

Okay. About that. This batch of clothes is almost black. It's deep and saturated and in some lighting looks just like black, or charcoal gray, but then if you pair it with black you'll see there's more blue to it as well. It's deep Payne's Grey. I think it should be "gray" not "grey" — it's just a better looking word — but I appear to be outnumbered on that front. But look at me choosing my battles! I can do it, I think.

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