Acrylic Dreams

Art whispers, sneaks into dreams. I awake before dawn, open my eyes to this old painting, one of my first on canvas.

Yes, it is a bad photo and the room itself needs painted (haven’t done much to the house since I bought it last September due to health issues: torn ligaments, that little stroke thing in November, adjusting to a blind eye, bouts with vertigo, etc.) We tended to necessary repairs, plumbing issues and the “to do” list from the home inspection, but cosmetics left as is… everything on walls is hung on preexisting nails.

That’s one of my favorite paintings… passed on selling it twice. Just something about it, maybe because it was a first on canvas. Dr. Day at KSU had us painting on Masonite before we were allowed to use canvas, like go buy your own 4 x 8 sheets, cut it up, prime it yourself; make your own ground.

I was an engineering student, working on an EERT degree (electrical tech) at a branch campus when art found me again. She knew me as a child, when I was winning kiddie art contests and attending workshops, then I grew up and satisfied my need to make things with home crafts. I ended up in Dr. Day’s art courses because I saw an old worn out paint brush laying on the sidewalk early on a Spring morning, not a soul around except a few Robins pecking for worms in the grass. The urge to paint came over me so strong that I had to go back and pick it up. A few days later, I was down in an art room between classes, talking to Dr. Day. He didn’t care what your major was… he’ll sign off permission for anyone. KSU cared… I took so many art classes that the university wouldn’t let me take any more until I signed up for a concurrent study in Studio Art.

I quit painting about ten years ago for several reasons:

  1. I royally sucked at it, my best work was just ho-hum.
  2. When I did get a piece in a show, no one I cared about bothered to go (one exception: my parents attended one art opening). It is important to note that my sister Jai lived out of state in my painting years… when in town, she has seen my colored pencil drawings in group shows and even brought friends in from Illinois to see my work when I had the coffee shop exhibit. Come to think of it, even the vet has passed on opportunities to see my colored pencil drawings on display.
  3. In my mother’s opinion, if you don’t paint like Thomas Kincaid, you have no business painting at all. On the other hand, my father has always encouraged and supported my art.
  4. My aluminum easels got stolen off the truck when I moved to Salem.
  5. I took up colored pencils post disability, when I needed something to do to take my mind off pain while stuck in a chair for endless hours. (Dry medium, small scale, min. body movement.)

Did I really suck as a painter?

Nah, not totally… there is enough of my art hanging in other people’s houses to say no… I had a thin skin back then, lacked essential confidence, thought my efforts were amateur at best. I also had this whacked idea that if people didn’t like my art, they didn’t like ME. To show art is like hanging a part of yourself on the wall, open for public ridicule, so maybe I needed ten years of drawing little bizarre things with colored pencil to develop a thicker skin.

I told the vet that I wanted to paint again… he was like oh, like you’re really going to do that. 


He wakes up every morning seeing the same paintings I do (or he used to, before he starting wandering off to go do that thing he does). Maybe he doesn’t realize that painting is mine as it was signed “Tomlin, 91” instead of with my art symbol, but the 1998 painting on the other wall has my symbol, he knows everything with that symbol is mine.

Considering that he had just asked what that thing was in the corner (an easel my father gave me) and then asked what it is for, and recalling how he refers to my drawings as pictures, I really shouldn’t let that comment get to me… but, it has jacked my determination… I need to buy some paints.

Every day I wake up alone, the urge comes stronger. I need to paint, now more than ever. 

Making art will help me get through this, whatever this is… he logged 25 hours incommunicado since my groundhog post, then came in Saturday afternoon as if he had only been gone for an hour or two. He left Sunday morning, said he was going for a walk to buy a pack of cigarettes, and I haven’t seen him since.

He did text Sunday night… instead of texting back, I called him because I wanted to hear his voice… see how messed up he was. He answered with, “Hello beautiful… ” three sheets to the wind.

Did I get bitchy with him? No, but I did ask if he walked all the way to Nebraska to buy cigs and he laughed, told me he had to watch a football game. Texted again this morning… he’ll be home in a few.

It’s getting to the point where I do not expect him to come home. I am surprised when he walks in the door. HE calls this place home… but, he’s not here more often than he is lately.  In some ways, I’m grateful that he sneaks off to do what he does.

Oh well… I need a diversion, I need paints. Art keeps whispering, she won’t leave me alone. Perhaps that’s my own addiction. Fuck drugs, I need art.

I went on Dick Blick to price the line that replaced my favorite Finity acrylics and found a Dear Santa wish list created last year with plans to start ordering supplies in January. Well, here it is October.

I edited the wish list down to basics, with boards instead of canvas because I’m starting over, can’t haul 4 x 8 sheets of Masonite home via city bus. The mini-tube set will get me started. I’d love to buy every color available and replace neglected brushes, but money is tight. 

It will take awhile to raise funds… I’m selling stuff off on eBay, got a few things on Etsy now, plan to add more in the coming days.

I’m also listing things for my dad on eBay, like his carving knives. He’ll be 81 next week, thinks he’s getting too old to be playing with sharp tools, time to take up some less dangerous hobbies.

Yep, doing what daddy does: when you want new toys, sell stuff to raise the funds to do it.

Here’s some links for the curious… if you want to peek at my wish list or see what is currently for sale.

My eBay page

My “Mice4Mars” Etsy Shop

My Dick Blick Wish List

Thanks for reading!



Another Day

In the light of another day, everything seems to be okay… except the man wants to evict my groundhog. He bricked off two exits and plans to block the main entrance to the rodent’s habitat when he sees Marty out playing in the yard.

Yes, I named the groundhog Marty.

He (or she) lives under the addition a previous owner built to expanded the kitchen out a few feet to make space for a table, so there is no basement under that part of the house. I imagine it is a cozy home for a groundhog, out of the wind and perhaps even somewhat heated as the water pipe running from the laundry room in the basement across that crawl space to the faucet on the outside of the house back there did not freeze at all last year. I worry about Marty finding a new home.

Ummm, I said. I kind of think like, maybe we should make the groundhog its own little house, kind of like a dog house. Do you think it would move into something like that?

The look on his face was priceless. I could tell that he thought I’d done lost my ever-loving flipping mind. It took a full minute before he could say, “What?” Then he didn’t wait for an answer. He just walked away waving his arms and shaking his head while mumbling something about crazy.

Marty is the groundhog I wrote about in Early Spring. He might not want to venture out on February 2nd to predict the weather, but I can tell you this… he’s a hell of a lot fatter than he was last Fall and his coat looks a lot thicker, so it would not surprise me if we are in for a harsh winter. Let’s hope he hibernates before the vet catches him out in the yard and blocks the entrance to his home.


NEXT DAY:  He came home fucked up on that shit last night.

Damn. Just when I was hoping that I was imagining shit, that he can’t be doing this… life felt back to normal when he was out weed whacking and plotting how to evict the groundhog. There was the man I know and love… that stranger his daughter dropped off on my doorstep last night, the man fumbling around and saying “What?” as if daring me to state the obvious, had yet to come down from his last hit.

I’m losing the man I love to this horrid drug and there is nothing I can do to stop it.


Fish Blue

Me: Babe, I’m getting used to this…
Him: Oh really?
Yeah, I’ve slept alone more in the last couple weeks than I have in the past year or so.
Awe babe…

What are you doing down there?
I’m getting my apartment together.
I think you’re playing… down there partying, playing poker with the boys, getting messed up.
He laughs, says I’ll be home in the morning (yeah, right… I’ve heard that before).

Can I stop by and pick up that ten tomorrow?
Babe, I’m coming home, I’ll bring it with me.
Blah blah blah, sweet dreams (oh… goodnight at 7:30?)
Yeah I love you too.

I hang up and dial my kid. Hey, what are you doing bright and early tomorrow morning? I need to go shopping… pick me up at 8:15?

Maybe he will conquer whatever has taken hold. There’s something toxic going on. I might be wrong, but I’ve known enough addicts to recognize the behavior patterns. Something takes all his money and wrings him out. Whatever it is, he tries to hide it from me… doesn’t do it around me. And if I flat-out asked, What’s your poison? What are you doing? Smoking woolies? He wouldn’t tell me anyway.

I feel like a break-up is inevitable… the man avoids confrontation at all costs, so he will just slide out slow, spend more and more time at his place and less at mine… he’ll wander in and out, slowly taking his stuff out, time will pass, two days, then four, work up to a week… and all the while, we will continue to say I love you and pretend all is well as it ever so slowly fades away. In the end, it will be like we just drifted apart, floated off with the fallen leaves. We will break up without actually breaking up. It will just gradually happen… one day it will be like, oh… it’s over, been over for a while.

I can see it play out like that. I can see myself singing this song… I’m just not ready for good.