A Signature

We are into the maelstrom phase of the spring redo of the shop.  It seems like everything has been moved, washed, and otherwise made ready to make friends with what what is on its way here.  Ourt first container from Europe-in customs in Romulus as I write.  Some months ago I wrote about a concrete floor that I had painted to resemble a “tapis vert”.  Lierally translated from the French, a tapis vert is a green carpet.  It is to my mind the most elemental version of a garden.  Every garden bears the signature of the garden maker.  A group of plants are arranged, have a form, that comes from human hands.  Though a wild meadow studded with poplars may not seem to have a signature, it does.  Certain and specific species thrive there.  The placement of the trees has everything to do with how seed is dispersed.  The most natural wild place has a signature, no matter how subtle.  Milo was a baby when I painted the floor with my representation of a lawn edged in gravel; he could not wait for the barricades to come down so he could go lie on it.   

Five years has taken its toll.  Lots of traffic from both people and objects had dulled the colors.  There were places where the paint had simply worn away.  Since spring is all about fresh, a fresh take on the floor seemed in order.  Moving everything to the sidelines was a big job, as was a thorough cleaning.  The paint needs every chance it can get to stick.  Howard decided to pitch in and help Pam with this. 

The floor got washed twice, and hand dried, in an effort to remove as much grime as possible.  The cleaning of this building is a full time job.  Dirt, plants and water get tracked all over.  Last time, I painted with floor with Benjamin Moore exterior 100% acrylic paint in a satin finish.  Acrylic paint is much harder than latex; the paint finish is washable, but not too shiny.  This time, I decided to use the acrylic version manufactured by Porter Paint.  We use this brand on all our painted furniture that goes outdoors, and on the extira board panels in the Jackie boxes we make.  Porter paint is a paint of choice for sign painters.  It is extremely durable outdoors.  This floor gets plenty of abuse-every muddy or wet day in every season, someone is bringing what’s on the ground across this floor.  Durability is important. 

What particular green to use as a base coat-I spent plenty of time stewing over that.  As the previous painting featured a green leaning towards yellow, I decided to change to a grass green.  Fern green.  A green not yellow, not blue.  Just green.  You cannot tell the temperature from this picture; the building is cold this time of year.  Big and drafty and a fortune to heat, we keep the temp down and out coats on-usually somewhere between 50 and 55.  This means the paint dries slowly, but I cannot imagine taking on a project like this any other time of year.   

The chocolate border is a paint color called “afternoon tea”.  How appropriate to the time of year.  Have you ever picked a paint color that had a name you did not like?  I haven’t either.  The person whose job it is to name paint colors-they must be bursting at the seams with ingenuity, and endowed with a stellar vocabulary.  Two base coats were applied-this part took 3 days.  Letting the paint dry enough is essential.  I do like to apply a second coat as the first coat is just barely shy of being dry.  I believe this makes the top layer stick better.   

The texture of the green ground the first time around came from a series of stokes meant to have a grassy feel.  I am sure I applied 3 additional colors over the ground.  Ths time I had something different in mind.  I wanted to apply the paint as if it were being written rather than painted.  This meant thinning the paint down until it ran a bit.  All of the paint was applied with a paint stir stick, not a brush. 

My paint stick was just inches above the surface while I was writing-this was a tough position to maintain for long.  But it was great fun.  That paint stick was a cross between a baton, a light stick and a pen.  Sometimes I would draw, sometimes I would sign.  I shook the stick on occasion like Milo shakes off the snow.

What did I write?  Whose names did I sign?  You will have to decide for yourself, come March.

The border-tomorrow.