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Line, Liner, Linest

19 Aug

That I like nothing better than to put on a podcast, put some ice in a drink, and spend several hours frozen in a somewhat unnatural pose striving to do nothing more than to make steady, even, simple lines might be a sign that there’s something a little off in my character.

Probably it’s not unrelated to the reason my parents took away my first and only hand-held video game in the early 80’s: not because I was wasting my time playing too much Trojan Horse, but because after every few games I’d add to the fervently plotted charts and graphs that I’d created to track my scores, analyzing for different trends, weaknesses, daily comparisons.

There is something inherently obsessive in the meticulous and impossible quest for the perfectly straight line, the curve balanced just so, the delicately weighted serif. And whether it’s neurosis or talent, I know that I’ve inherited a great deal of it; I spent many an hour watching my father carve the individual lines and softnesses into each feather of a wooden bird, and my mother hand draw the bathymetric lines on an undersea map (this was in the 80’s too… most hand drawn cartography jobs long ago went the way of my video game habit.)

In the past I’ve used my penchant for getting up really close to things, modifying my breathing and getting a tired right wrist to do painting work for a porcelain artist, to solder mod chips onto the circuit boards of electronic entertainment devices, and to paint the feathers of hummingbirds. Now I’ve been lucky enough to find a few new outlets for steadyhandedness.

First, my recent word paintings are translating into some sign paintings projects. I’m working on a 2-piece sign for Community Works Rhode Island, as well as some mammoth outdoor signage for The Grant at 250; this one will be in the ol’ school style of the building’s previous life as a WT Grant department store.

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I’ve also just finished my first two projects in the medium of acrylic urethane on one of my favorite surfaces: the bike! Both of these bikes were beautiful custom pieces by Circle A Cycles. The first is a CX bike built for my partner and favorite collaborator, Jay Nutini. This bike is amazing from stem to pedal, with Richard Sachs stainless lugs and SRAM Red components, and a kustom kandy red paint job by Jay. I was lucky enough to be brought in at the end to design some custom lettering and to employ the wee paintbrush for lug lining and flourishes.

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For more photos of this bike, check out Brian’s blog post.

The second bike for which Circle A was nice enough to bring me in was a restoration job on which I, again, lined the lugs. I worked in the shop with Nathan, one of Circle A’s painting whizzes. It was a lovely day. He made me an americano with one of the shop’s espresso machines and we listened to an On Point story about the birther movement while I lined the chartreuse frame with gold pearl paint; a task that proved somewhat mind-bending due to the similarities of the two colors. It was great to work in the shop though, with a stand and a clamp and a stool and an overall set-up more legit than I’m accustomed to. Hoping to get photos of the bike soon.

Next on my agenda for finicky lines and shimmery surfaces; pinstriping a car. Seeing as Jay’s 54 Chevy is still in the pulling-the-insides-outside phase of restoration, I don’t suppose I’ll be able to put the finishing touches on that for something like 120 months.

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However, word has it there’s a 70’s VW that’ll be ready for my work in 6 weeks or so, so I’m practicing my paint handling, my symmetry-maintaining, and my ornamental designing.

I’m excited, but don’t mean to presume that I can simply step into the traditional-laden and legend-populated world of kustoms and pinstriping with a whim and some One Shot and consider myself a professional. I am brand new to this, humble, unable to name the makes of most cards never mind their years or particular relevance, and eager not to step on any toes (or other things that one shouldn’t step on in a body shop… I don’t even know enough to be sure what those things would be).

I’m an eager learner, though, and hope that there’ll be more Car Folks out there willing to let me try my brushes on their precious rides.

In the meantime; you need a sign? You got a lug needs lining? I can do that. I have hours of Jordan Jesse Go and The Writer’s Block that I haven’t listened to yet. Call me.