Turtle House Rock

Done and done. It only took a year for God sake! Sorry about the blurry picture, but I’ll get one with a tripod soon.

It’s actually dangerous for me to set up my tripod where I can get a good picture at the moment. A large Brazilian pepper tree takes up most of my backyard. It blooms sweet pollenic flowers from September to October and every honey bee from here to Antarctica comes to our very tree to hum, buzz and work, work, work. The whole yard vibrates like some kind of Alfred Hitchcock movie. Wouldn’t you know it, both Michael and I happen to be allergic to bees? Our landlord is so nice, she’s offered to replace it, but it’s really a beautiful tree and it’s only about a month out of the year. It’s no big inconvenience. We’ve been here over 10 years and only one of us have been stung, and that was Buddy, our border collie. He took it like a dog trooper and he didn’t seem very allergic, otherwise we have a few EpiPens standing by.

Anyway, this little painting that took me a year didn’t exactly take me a year’s time to paint. That would be an all-time record for me. I think my full time record is two or three months maybe? But as far as having it sit around taunting me and whining, “Finish me! Finish me!” that’s definitely a first. I know I started it before last September because I brought it with me to Yucca Valley with the intention of finishing it there. But then I left that residency early due to mental health issues and battled some of the worst depression of my life for an entire year and finished the book instead. I’ve hardly felt like painting after that. And I think the longest sitting I’ve had with this painting is like an hour and a half.

I called it “done” yesterday at noon and felt a huge weight lift off of me. Turtle House is a 24 x 30 (x 2) inch oil on gessoboard panel. It is my 977th artwork. That is, since I began numbering them all. I realized I had to start doing that back when I was in my early 20s…

Okay, now I am going to take you back into the distant past, and probably geek out too.

Around age 24, when I’d only made roughly 150 paintings, I tried to chronologically trace them from memory in order to assign each of them numbers — as much as possible anyway. Not too impossible, as I always wrote the year on the front with my signature and sometimes where I lived on the back. I contacted the collectors who had pieces I sold or gifted and asked them to write these “inventory” numbers on the backs of the paintings.

Now I am grateful to myself for keeping track, even though I kept it all on notebook paper for far too many years before I finally put it into a database, which is really ironic considering that for at least 10 years prior, I often worked for small businesses doing data entry in DOS! In fact, I had a simple database for my mailing list in Microsoft Works on a Windows 3.1 machine, yet I was using a pen and notebook “system” for my art. Der!

In the early 2000s, I started looking for some kind of access based software and there were only two back then. One was a larger company called, ArtSystems (still the biggest around), and was mostly used for museum collections and by larger galleries. They also had an artist’s version, which I think at that time was $500 — a lot of money. There was also an independent developer, a woman, that made a program just out of beta, called, Working Artist. I think there was a pro version too, but the artist’s version was something like $150 and I purchased it on a 30-day trial. She had a good idea and I wanted it to work, but it wasn’t a great interface. And the tech support was great because the developer was always available by email 24-7. She helped me with nearly everything, but so many things didn’t have customization abilities to my liking. So I returned it.

That’s when Michael got me interested in what SQL databases could do. These are web-based and are queried through php. MySQL and php are not novel anymore, but they were in 2002. No one was building this stuff from scratch and customizing it on the back end of their websites, but we were. Mjp didn’t just help me customize all the fields I needed, how it would work and cross reference everything while the front end ran the esart.com website, he also built the entire interface where I could enter all my data. I could add and edit anything and everything in about a second and a half. I still do! It’s fucking crazy! After all these years, it’s still a superior system to anything that’s out there. Jealous? You should be.

In other news, my book will be returned to me from the copy editor any hour of any day now. I’m surprisingly feeling very patient and thinking up pseudo covers even though I know it won’t be my choice if I get a publisher.

I’ll be giving out some pre-publication e-books before the end of the year. That’s either exciting, or scary.


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