Art Si wakes up at 10:00 a.m. He feels something on his leg and looks down to see his oil palette stuck to his skinny jeans. His roommate’s snores prevent him from drifting back to sleep. He gets up and walks to the coffee shop across his apartment. Sally, his favorite barista, gives him a strange look.
“Rough night?” she asks.
“Rough morning. I went to five different art shows last night. I never should try to attend all my graduate school friends’ shows. There are too many.”
“When are you going to have a show?” Sally coyly asks as she makes his “usual,” a huge triple espresso frappy wappy.
“Tonight. You should come. I have a postcard right here. It’s at the gallery across the street.”
He gives her his best wink, which looks more like a twitching eye and walks back to his apartment. His roommate “Totes Cool” is up and working on a painting.
“Hey, Totes. What are you working on?” Art asks while trying to navigate through their apartment, which is filled with rolls of canvas, paints, frames, wood and beer cans. “Ummm. I got into this residency program in Vermont. I’m leaving in two weeks, so I’m putting together some stuff to bring,” Totes says.
“How long will you be gone?”
“Like, forever. I’m done with this city. I’m moving into my brother’s apartment on the west coast.” Totes says, with a paintbrush in his mouth.
“When were you going to tell me? Now, I have to find a new roommate. Plus, I have a show tonight,” Art says and slams the door of his apartment.
“Stupid Totes. It sucks showing wet work,” he thinks, as he puts some finishing touches on a painting he is planning to show.
Oil paint can take anywhere from 24 hours to 3 months to dry depending on the color. Certain colors such as cobalt only dry on the surface. You can easily screw up a painting or cause it to crack if you paint a faster-drying layer over the top of oil underpainting. If the underpainting is thickly applied, there is less chance of cracking. For this reason, many oil painters mix linseed oil with their oil paints to help the paint dry faster.
Art turns on his dehumidifier and places the painting in the sun to speed up the drying time. He gets on his computer and emails friends, potential buyers and former buyers. Oftentimes, the galleries take care of the promoting, but it never hurts to invite as many people as possible to shows. He checks his watch.
“Man, it’s already noon,” he thinks.
Art races past Totes and shoots him a dirty look. After a quick shower, he puts on his best pair of skinny jeans and is ready for the show.
“Totes, I need your help carrying all these paintings down to the rental van.”
“Sorry, man, I’m like completely absorbed right now,” Totes says while staring at one of his paintings of a cat riding a monkey through Central Park.
“I should have paid for an assistant,” Art thinks as he grabs each painting and runs down four flights of stairs.
The gallerist looks annoyed when she sees Art wander into the gallery at 2 p.m.
“These should have been up yesterday. I’m sweating bullets. The show starts at 5 p.m.” she says.
Art mumbles something and gets to work hanging his paintings. He uses a level to make sure that they are all hung at the same height. Every once in a while he hears the gallerist sigh and mumble, “Why does this happen at every show?”
5 p.m. rolls around and Art takes a break to get some coffee. He sees people walk into the gallery and thinks about how he’s going to sell his work. His art statement was written at 4 a.m. the night before and he can’t quite remember what he wrote. Basically, he tried to deconstruct the American dream. His work shows museums, amusement parks and playgrounds without people. The effect has a surreal quality which suggests that these places have their own distinctive characters.
The gallerist grabs him when he wanders back in, “This is the artist. Art, this is Mr. Havingstuff. He wants to buy two of your paintings.”
“I love how you explore America’s obsession with playtime,” Mr. Havingstuff says.
Art nods his head. He has no idea what the guy just said, but is glad his work is getting sold.
He sees some of his friends from art school. They chat about his work, and Art invites them to the lecture he is giving at the art school in a couple of days. His old studio mate rolls her eyes. It’s like a full time job keeping up with what everyone is doing.
Art takes advantage of the cheese plate in the center of the room. He stops eating when he sees the gallerist shoot him an evil eye because he has polished off the brie. At 9 p.m. the show is over. He has sold five paintings, which is pretty good for him. The gallerist gives him a hug, and he goes out to celebrate with his friends. He shoots one more look at his paintings. Some of them he will miss. To him, they are more than just paintings. They have witnessed his growth as an artist and have been with him through some good as well as bad times in his life.
Before he gets in the cab, he gets an inspiration for a new body of work. Ideas start flooding in, and he decides that he’ll get to work on them tomorrow.