“Red Mary”

Last week I wrote about painting and how it fatigued me more than I expected and here I go this week writing about painting again. I’m writing this on the Fourth of July (I’ve been writing on Sundays lately) and what am I doing for my Fourth? Painting and fixing chairs! An odd combination for sure and they’re two separate things. I’m painting. And I’m fixing chairs. I’m not painting the chairs I fix.

After finishing the first painting that I wrote about last week I decided to jump into another one. At least I jumped in after three days of working on other stuff but that’s still pretty close together. Back in May I bought five new canvases with the idea that I would finish five paintings over the summer. It took me a month to get the first one done so I knew I had to start this second one right away. I’m only about a third of the way into it as I write this so there is a long way to go but at least it’s started. If I have any hope of getting five done I can’t procrastinate as much as I did with the first one.

And what about the chairs you ask? As a Christmas present my parents bought my sister and I two new Lay-Z-Boy recliners. They are now upstairs in the living room. Downstairs in my studio I have another recliner that my brother in law gave me years ago after he got a new one. That one has seen better days. So have the two old ones from upstairs. So I decided to see if I could fix all three of them. Let’s hear it for YouTube repair videos!

When I was at the Lay-Z-Boy store picking out a new chair the salesman told me if I ever had any problem with the chair Lay-Z-Boy would send me parts to fix it for free. So I called them up and ordered two seat springs for one chair, one seat spring for the second, and a rocker spring for the third. For $15 shipping they sent them to me. Except the rocker spring. For some reason that’s not here yet.

The parts to the chairs arrived just as I was starting the painting. It’s the “Red Mary” painting that I mentioned last week. It was supposed to be the first painting I was going to work on but I changed my mind and went with something else for #1. Now it was Red Mary’s turn. I gridded up my already made drawing onto the canvas.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to get around to trying to fix the chairs but it turned out to be right in the middle of making a painting. I would work on the painting for an hour and them go out to the garage and work on a chair for an hour. Or half an hour each. Whatever I felt like at the time.

Fixing seat springs on a recliner is a tough job. First I had to unscrew the recliner bottom from the seat springs, remove it, and then unscrew the seat itself from the frame. For this task I needed torx screwdrivers, which I had, but I also had to order torx drill bits and a socket set. They don’t put all those screws in convenient places and it turned out that my two handle lengths of torx screwdrivers weren’t enough.

Then there is replacing the seat springs themselves. That takes pulling a lot of staples out of the upholstery and then pulling the spring into place. The spring does not like to be pulled. It takes a remarkable amount of strength and perseverance.

There were a lot of setbacks and much frustration as I worked on fixing the chairs but whenever it got to be too much I went back and painted. After gridding up the drawing, which took awhile, I began to paint the line drawing part in purple.

I have my brushes divided into brushes for paint and brushes for ink. The ink one is an expensive sable brush that comes to a really sharp point. The paint ones are often cheap brushed that don’t come to sharp point because I don’t need them too. I usually use my paint brushes to lay down the purple line but this time, since I decided to use purple ink rather than watered down purple paint, I grabbed an ink brush. It worked really well for the task. Better than the similar paint brush I used last week. I think I keep using it.

I’m only on my third day of the painting but my fifth day of fixing chairs. I’m down to the last one. I thought I had it finished but as I was wrapping it up I noticed one other thing wrong with it. That’s been the story of these chairs. The youngest one is 21 years old so a lot of things can go wrong. One of them had a split piece of wood in it that I had to glue, fill with wood putty, drill out, and buy a new bolt for. That took a day. I’m actually sitting in that glued chair right now. It’s solid as a rock. It didn’t used to be.

I spent today filling in some of the solid color in the painting. I painted in red Mary’s red skin. I don’t think I’m going to get much more than that done today. I started on it late because I was busy with other things but as long as it’s under way I know I’ll get it finished eventually.

One thing that has slowed me down a little with this painting is my hands. Fixing recliners is tough on the hands. Not only does it take a lot of physical strength but working with wrenches and screw drivers in tight spaces leads to cuts and scrapes. I’ve go one quarter inch square scrape on my right pinky and lots of other tiny cuts and scrapes on both hands. At a couple of points in time it felt like my hands were burning. That makes it a little tougher to paint.

After I fix these chairs what am I going to do with them? I already have one of them in my studio but I’m going to get rid of the couch I have in here and put the two chairs in its place. I rarely sit on the couch so I’d rather have the two chairs in its place. I think I’ll sit on them more. They’ll give me a different perspective.