Timing is everything isn't it?
A few weeks ago, 3 to be exact, I called on an old friend. We see each other maybe once or twice a year. Usually on whim. So, as usual, the call turned into, "What are you up to this weekend, you should come visit." and so I did. And, as usual, it was an awesome visit. Leaving was awful. Maybe because of the hangover, maybe because I hate driving on the highway, maybe because I had so much fun. In any case, we really should do that more Jen!
It was great to catch up with her and her family and see what reno projects they have taken on. They have been busy and this time it worked to my advantage. Jen, an incredible artist in her own right, called me part way through the week to see if I would be interested in taking on a painting project. It was offered to her, but she was too swamped to take it on and wondered if I wanted too. YES! I said. She passed my info along and before I knew it, I had taken on a project that was, how do you say it?? "Meant to be."
Once I contacted the client, and found out more, I was so pumped to find out it was to paint a custom beer pong table. It isn't everyday that you get asked to paint a beer pong table. What an awesome project. And just different enough to make me giddy with joy. She (the client) said it just kinda came to her as an idea for a birthday present. And if I wasn't already excited enough to paint on such an unusual canvas, I'm told it isn't a family crest (like Jen had told me), but a pub sign! For real?! So cool! If you know me well, you know my Dad is from England. If you know me really well, you might know that I got the opportunity to visit England, about 6 years ago, with my Dad. We toured around Derby and Borrowash where he was born and where my Grandparents moved back too when I was little, to take pictures of all the local pub signs in the area. Those photos were all on the wall in my old house, one of my favourite art collections actually. I haven't found the right place for them in this house yet.
And as if this project wasn't perfectly suited for me already, she also asked if there could be a Canadian flag at one end and Union Jack at the other. Of course! I work at a Flag company so this didn't pose much of a threat to me. Could this project be any cooler?!
Like I said, it was meant to be. I couldn't wait to get started and less then a week later her Contractor was dropping of the 8'x4' piece of wood in my kitchen. I've never painted anything this large before - unless you count the entire wing of Georgian College when we were in a Murals class (Ahh, listening to Eve 6 in the basement with Darryl, Mike and Derek painting oversized computer graphic murals...memories).
I didn't have any time to waste in getting started as this was also a rush project. I had less then two weeks to complete it. The timing actually worked out perfect as I had the weekend to myself and managed to prep enough of the main areas in the evening after Charlie went to bed during the week. Leaving me with a few nights to Varathane it.
So timing, it was great. Great time to see a good friend. Great time for her to be too busy for this project. Great time in my schedule for such a project. There is also another big timing issue that I've opted to write about in a second post for a few reasons; It's more emotional and I don't want to show the final picture to you all until the client has seen it first. And it would have made this post way too long.
So these work in progress pictures will have to do for now. Don't worry, shouldn't be long.
Beer pong table is complete.
It was picked up a few weeks ago. What a project! It was just what I needed to get motivated and moving this year. And it was the perfect to reflect on my Grandma and Pa Cook...
Pub signs are something of a collection I have. Well, pictures of them anyway. All specific to Borrowash, Derby in England. My Dad and I visited his parents there 6 years ago this month. It was the last time I saw my Pa as he passed two years later. It was also the last time I saw my Grandma but she has continued on with her daily routine ever since.
My Grandparents brought my Dad and his sister to Canada when they were kids - some 50+ years ago. My Grandparents moved back when I was in about Kindergarten. It's funny, I have a very vivid memory of sitting on my Pa's lap colouring a red wagon (as I remember it) in a colouring book. Him teaching me about staying in the lines. Makes me smile to think about it now.
Clearly I haven't had the opportunity to be very close with Grandma and Pa because of the distance. Since they moved back I have been there twice and they were here twice. In 2010 I visited them with my Dad. One of the greatest trips of my life. My Dad has been going over every February for probably close to 10 years now, but that particular year I got to go as well. I'm forever grateful for that.
Of course we stayed with my Grandparents and walked with Grandma into town each morning to see what was on special a the grocery store. We watched all her game shows, Corrie Street and Doc Martin. Dad and I toured around the local areas checking out Pubs. I was specifically interested in The White Swan, remembering it from my trip when I was in grade 5. And Noah's Ark, supposedly a pub that my Grandma worked in at one point her life. I decided to take photos of all the pub signs hanging around the village. I would love to say that we ate in all of them, but we didn't. A few other names stuck with me like the Ye Olde Dolphin Inne. Which we did eat at, it was so neat. And The Twitchel Inn. We ate there as well. In fact, my Grandma bought Charlie a lamb stuffed animal while I was there and we named him Mr. Twitchel after that pub.
It's nice to go to a place like that with people who know the area. Listening to my Dad talk about being a kid at the park. Going into the now library which used to be his school. We even go invited in to this outstanding home in Borrowash while we were out to find out some more history of the area. The nicest lady just opened her door to us and gave us these books on the history of Derby and Borrowash.
What I haven't mentioned is that my Grandma is very sick. It's cancer. She didn't tell anyone. We found out at Christmas. Four days later my Dad was on his way over to be with her for a couple of weeks. This painting came a great time for me because it was the perfect way and time I needed to remember. It was a bit of mirror for me. The parallel of stories. I was able to paint away and think about the memories I have. To feel lucky I got to visit when I did. That I got to have a couple of conversations with Pa. That I got to sit with Grandma and sense where some of my "stuff" comes from. Like that feeling that if we had have lived closer to each other, we would have gotten along smashingly. She seems like a no fuss kinda lady. She is cheeky. We would team up on my Dad. She is also strong. She cared for my Pa all on her own when he was sick. Once he passed, she was still getting up everyday to walk into town. Maintaining her home and gardens. Going on bus trips. She seems to possess qualities that I am envious of. She seems so confident to me. I can only hope that some of that "stuff" is in me somewhere too.
As I write this, she is still alive. She is now in a nursing home and they say it won't be long. My Dad has been over again for a few more weeks to organize that move and talk with doctors. I can't imagine to be him and what he must be feeling. I know I feel sort of helpless from this far away.
In all my learning this past year, I've been told to use creativity as my outlet. To use it as a form of meditation. Which I think it always has been, I've just never acknowledged it as that until now. So what painting this table allowed me to do was reflect, focus, and send my thoughts and prayers to my Grandma and my Dad. I love you both! I thinking of you.
I'm grateful for this project. Here are some pics of the finished product sent to me from the client. So cool to see it propped up on old whisky barrels.