I was sorting through some items stored in a little used corner of the studio when I came across a bundle of paint rags. I usually air out rags after a few paintings, letting them dry outdoors so the turpentine and oil fumes don’t create a fun little science experiment called spontaneous combustion. All the rags were dry and stiff and pretty useless. I wondered why I was even keeping them when out of the pile this little beauty rolled out.
Believe it or not, this old shirt belonged to my dad, circa 1972. He probably doesn’t even know I have it or that I kept it all this time. It predates every brush I have. (The ones I started with were worn out ages ago.) Somehow I got a hold of my dad’s old shirt and used it to clean my brushes and went on to clean every brush I used for the next few decades. This shirt has a dollop of paint on it from every painting I made during that time. I guess I kept it as a good luck charm or something. After awhile, I made sure I swiped a brush across it even if I had another rag by my easel, you know, for luck.
One day, I aired it out and never put it back where I could use it. And then I forgot all about it. Until it was unearthed in an archeological dig of sorts. I smoothed it out and thought about all the projects we had worked on together. The trip down memory lane made me smile. There are a lot of crappy paintings wiped on that shirt, and some that are still pretty good. Here’s one from the pretty good list:
I have a bit of a rocky history with my dad. However, through all the years of ups and downs, I still had his shirt to help me clean up my creative mess. Eventually, we managed to persevere and develop a better “grown up” relationship. So I guess it really was a lucky shirt after all.