On the short trek from our apartment to the nearest park, maintenance workers from the condominio often roll out the garbage cans for the daily trash pickup. With hundreds of apartments, you build up a lot of trash in just 24 hours.
Oftentimes, the trash crew is there, shuffling the cans around, putting them one by one in the mechanic device that lifts and dumps their contents in the truck. The trash crew is a friendly bunch and have grown accustomed to our scanning over whatever is sticking out of the trashcans. We have no shame.
Most of it is truly just trash, but we’ve found a few treasures. We had a working telescope in our apartment for a year, thanks to not being too proud to bring home what was left in the trash. “Is that what I think it is? Do you think it works?” “Let’s take it and see.” It was! and it did!!
Then there was the time I found a beautiful, large woven basket. There’s one particularly friendly trash man who saw me pick up the basket. He walked over and said something in a serious, almost concerned tone about “huevos” (eggs.) I didn’t catch much else he said. I thought he was probably saying something about it being a traditional Chilean basket for gathering eggs — lots and lots of eggs (as it was a BIG basket). That’s what I wanted to believe he said, I guess. I noticed a bit of colorful dust in the bottom. No biggie. I shrugged, and told him I wanted it. He shrugged back and held out his hands as if to say, “Take it. It’s yours.”
Take it I did. When cleaning out the colorful “dust” at the apartment, I saw little tiny worms emerging from the thick straw. Now the “huevos” comment made sense. At least he tried to warn me. He probably got a chuckle when the basket showed up in the trash again the next day. If I had had a big enough freezer, I could have frozen the little buggers.
One day, we found a large, nearly blank, approximately 3′ x 5′ canvas. On it was a crude sketch of a rooster, done in pencil. The frame was very slightly warped but otherwise in good condition (and no sign of worms), so we brought it home. That faint rooster sketch lasted about a year or so before we 1) had the time and energy and 2) the inspiration to do anything with the canvas.
Over our “Christmas” holiday in June (I know, I know…sounds crazy. But try celebrating it during the longest days of the year and you’ll understand why we do it in June instead), we set to work.
We chose a photo of a happy memory back in Chattanooga and planned our painting by superimposing a grid on the digital picture. We then lightly penciled in a corresponding grid right on top of the old rooster. And then we set to work painting the background. When needed, we avoided painting over the intersections of the grid to help with the placement of things in the foreground.
I say “we” because this was a family effort. All six of us took turns sharing ideas, techniques, and doing the actual painting.
We’re newbies at this. This is just our second attempt at a painting like this, but it’s so much better than our first. It’s far from perfect. There were a few parts that we really messed up and did over, and there are some funny mistakes we made and just let be. I don’t know that we’ll ever “fix” them. We used 3M strips to pin the frame to the wall, fixing the slight warp.
It’s a happy memory — the time and place of the subject and the process of creating the painting.