Anyway, it's been a really lazy weekend and I've only been dressed for the last end of the days, spending 13 hours (or more) in my pajamas before meeting people for homework. Today, I didn't put on a shirt. I just threw a sweater on and went. An old semi-friend came up to me while I was making a dent in my pages and started talking with me when I realized that I am in a public place in a sweater with no shirt on. Jump back!
This is the chunk I'm re-writing:
In the farthest corner, held together almost exclusively by the sticky substance of cobwebs, teetered a pile, stacked atop cardboard boxes and a daybed Bailey slept in when she was twelve, which was from that same period of her life when she discovered Van Gogh and his story about his self-destructive obsession with the prostitute he loved named Rachel, sending an ear to the woman in a fit of passion, or so she read on Wikipedia. Fueled by the idea of Picasso’s blue period, a concept she was infatuated with when she saw “The Old Guitarist” on a calendar on her seventh grade teacher’s wall, Bailey attempted a portrayal of Van Gogh’s ear delivery scene, which was poorly rendered, though multiple attempts would be executed, though none would equate the horror of the sample from the blue period.
As interpreted by Bailey, her blue period necessitated three different but equally limited and insignificant shades of blue—navy, pastel, and teal. The amorphous blob of the woman was a conglomerate swirl of the three colors holding the pastel envelope, out of which slid a navy blue ear. The distinguishing body part that depicted the difference between the severed ear and the blob were the distended eyes that were stretched enough to cover almost the entire length of the woman. The piece was her first attempt and reflected a conglomeration of melted paints, poorly applied shellacked covers, and abstract ideas of what a severed ear and a horrified woman would look like, all wrapped up in a blue background that had faded with time and attracted the ligaments of random, unfortunate insects. As it horrified Bailey and Bailey’s mother, Barbara, its permanent placement at the bottom of the pile was the best real estate it would ever get.
The three years dedicated to imitating Van Gogh’s blue period was appropriately marked by the toppling pile of more than twenty 10x15 canvases, and various smaller palettes, varying from 5x6 to sketches in blue ink. The maturation of Bailey’s periods occurred on her fifteenth birthday when Barbara’s sister, Polly, presented Bailey with an art book of the life works of Picasso.
“Barb, don’t worry,” Polly said to her sister. “She’ll grow out of it and you can stop buying so many blue dye tablets.”
Bailey didn’t make it past the chapter of the man’s cubist phase before she was cutting apart cube-shaped scraps of cloth and foil to piece together, forming collage after collage of distorted human outlines and bulbous carnivorous designs, which were only designated animal status because of the assortment of wildlife print scraps that gave them any consistency, but to say the image was wholly discernible would be a stretch of any imagination or ability.
In contrast to the hodgepodge and literal cube-like approach bailey took, she tried depicting Van Gogh’s story with the phase, making vague outlines of ear, woman, and envelope, giving most emphasis on the blood that soaked the ear, hand, and envelope. It looked like a fortunate, grotesque accident of confetti, but the piece was good enough to be considered in a local art fair. Bailey get interested in the fairs in high school, and was a continuous, crushing denial of what Barbara outwardly called talent and inwardly called economic failure, a view perpetuated by her art-less upbringing.
“Isn’t my daughter brilliant?” she would ask parents who had children in the same art class. Her constant comparisons to children who were still using charcoal and play dough was how other parents knew about Barbara’s trepidation, and the permanent place Bailey’s father took next to his daughter’s work to bask in what he thought was the epitome of creativity scared the same observant parents.
“I don’t know where she gets it from—certainly not me! Barb!” he would call across the room. “You devil, you. You slept with the milk man, didn’t you?” Chip would nudge the person closest to him, usually the art teacher, and grin. “There isn’t any originality like this in anyone in my family.”
Fueled by her mother’s masked approval and her father’s honest encouragement, Bailey’s cubist period was piled up across a bureau and littered the brown shag carpet of the basement in such disarray that it could have been considered art to the abstract critics of the time. Despite the many efforts of Barbara and Polly to shift Bailey’s perception of the world from the drab, formulaic cubist approach in which she resided, there was a change when Bailey’s father, Chip, thoughtlessly gave Bailey a bonsai tree for Christmas. Despite the non-tender and unimpressionable age of eighteen, Bailey was unmistakably taken with the knotted, erect, and impossible tree, which proved to be her muse for the next two years, in which she engaged in painting the realism of Southern California landscapes and strangers in the dusty, Palm-tree laden state, much to her mother’s dismay.
“Chip, why?” she lamented. “Why did you do this to me? What are we supposed to do with all of her crap?”
“Honey, it’s going to sell! Just watch. Look at her work—her teacher said that the composition and color use is above average. She has great ideas!”
The maturity of style with these pieces was noted in the crowded basement as they were mostly piled on the walls. Unframed, it was not the classy status Barbara would have preferred for any room in her meticulous and well-ordered house, but the fervor Bailey channeled to any phase she enjoyed was to the detriment of her art’s appreciation. Most of the hundred canvases were propped against the walls, and because Bailey would refuse the smaller canvases in favor of what she believed was making a statement with the bigger canvases, equaling 10x15’s or exceeding that, they quickly covered the small room that constituted the basement. Few pieces hung on the walls of the house, mainly because the clean, modern style of the house was not amicable enough to accommodate the realistic depiction of strangers—especially not the bloody and abhorrent version of Bailey’s new edition of the Van Gogh lover piece—the pieces that fulfilled the requirement held by modernism were placed in the kitchen and sunroom, where pieces of fruit bowls, the Nguyen backyard, and a portrait of Chip and Barbara were duly appreciated by family and friends alike.
“Chip, your daughter is so talented. Do you think she would do a portrait of my family, too?”
“Oh, you don’t want that,” Barbara would say. “That took her three weeks. We had to sit for how long, Chip? Four hours every time?”
“But look at the result—I would gladly do it again. She got me exactly the way I see myself,” Chip would counter. “She has great insight, and her art teacher always compliments her use of color and composition,” he would boast to the friend who wanted an original.
There seemed to be a natural progression from Bailey’s realism to her impressionism, which she had learned about it in college when she was twenty. Living in San Francisco, she had many opportunities to paint the period’s focus—a landscape as seen from behind a rain-pelted window. The distorted and smudged trees, people, and views of Fisherman’s Wharf were her best works, evidenced when measured against the ratio of sold works to unsold, dusty efforts, but there were plenty of remainders in the basement that were in boxes that surrounded the circumference of Bailey’s designated, if unused, painting area.
Bailey continued the impressionistic phase after she graduated from college, and the works she made were quite different from the pieces made in San Francisco. When she moved back home to Temecula, the notorious lack of rain caused a decrease in volume of works produced. The few times it would rain, Bailey would frantically work and later store the rushed pieces, both finished and unfinished, in cardboard boxes. The focus was one Bailey took advantage of, but the nature of blurry windows and views that are consequently as blurry as the window made one piece almost identical as the next, except the colors the landscape called for, the pieces were naturally more depressing than Bailey would have intended.