Thoughts About a Mechanic’s Fine Tuning

Re-touched Waxahachie Caboose Plein Air Sketch

Re-touched Waxahachie Caboose Plein Air Sketch

My father, now retired, was a certified automotive technician for General Motors.  That is a more refined way of saying that he worked as a mechanic for GM dealerships throughout St. Louis as I grew up.  When I moved to Texas in 1977, I was driving a high-mileage clunker.  When it needed a valve job, I limped it home to St. Louis and my father graciously did the work, without charging me what dealerships charged for service work on vehicles.  I am not a mechanic.  I watched him remove the heads, take them to a machine shop, and pick them up later that day, machined and slick, looking like new.  The weather that June afternoon was very hot and humid. Our clothes were sticking to us. Yet, Dad continued to lean over the engine, installing the heads.  Finally, he told me to start the engine.  When I did, I got out of the car, and was horrified to see oil spurting everywhere and the engine sounding like it was breathing its last.  As it clattered loudly and Dad patiently adjusted the tappets, I was amazed to watch and listen as it eventually evened out, quieted down, and at last was purring like a brand new engine.  The touch of the master mechanics hand!

Today I returned to hot and humid Waxahachie with my bloody painting started yesterday, and thought about my Dad as I bent over the easel, and began going to work adjusting, adjusting, and adjusting some more.  I worked on it for about an hour, finally deciding I had done all I could to “save” it.  Thankfully, today’s painting looks nothing like the wreck that I pulled off the easel at the end of yesterday’s attempt.  I don’t think I had the same skill level that Dad had the evening he fine-tuned my ailing engine.  But I’m happy that today’s work looks much better than it did when I gave up yesterday.

The nine paintings I did in preparation for this Waxahachie event are all pale and carefully drawn.  I decided this time that I wanted to paint with some guts, so to speak.  I wanted bolder, heavier colors in my composition.  This is quite a big step for me.  We’ll see where it leads.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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