Back ~20 years ago, I took up painting. Fun hobby.
The problem with taking up painting is that you sorta end up with a lot of paintings you can’t use. I mean, you hang up a dozen paintings and eventually you run out of wall space.
So I started selling ’em. The town I lived in had a pretty great farmers market, and they let near anyone in there, so I set up a small table and for a few weekends, I was pitching my “If Bob Ross had cataracts” style of paintings.
Vivian. Tall lady, with a huge hat that made her look massive. Sparkly thick pink glasses. Had a hoarse laugh and deep laugh lines like she had laughed for years. Sparse red hair and equally sparse teeth. Talked with me for an hour about her kids, her grandkids, her dead husband, and her deadbeat brother.
To this day, she is only person to this day I’ve ever heard say the word “deadbeat” out loud.
She really liked this ONE painting that I had not been able to even GIVE away. And I really wanted this sale.
She held the painting and stared at it for what felt like an hour. Told me about her daughter who came by on Thursdays to do laundry with her who’d have loved it. Told me about how it reminded her of Mount Si (a mountain here in Washington) and how she used to pick blackberries by the coffee-can full near the river there, and the river in the picture looked just like it, so much you could hear the constant rush and gurgling of quickly-moving water.
She was going on so much, I thought she was milking me a bit to try to get me to lower the price.
It was one of my last paintings, and the market was gonna close, so it was kind of working too.
“Well, I’ve got to pack up. Did you want to take it with you?”
“Oh no. Wouldn’t match the bathroom at all. Totally wrong colors. My bathroom’s pink.”
And then she walked away. Just smiled and turned away. I was left packing up with a table, my cashbox and the remaining 3 paintings.
2 of ’em I scraped the canvas and painted over. You can do that once the oil dries.
But I kept the one with the wrong colors.
And when you attach a lot of your self worth to what you do, that ‘not fitting’ can hurt. And when you’re not able to see folks in your day to day, that ‘not fitting’ can hurt. And when you’re the only person on your team that can do what you do, ‘not fitting’ can hurt.
Vivian loved the painting for about an hour.
But did it fit? Nope. Didn’t match her bathroom colors. Vivian was right. It’d look terrible on a pink wall.
I kinda like it on mine though. I’ve gotten pretty used to it.