A Studebaker hub cap arrives UPS to my studio, from Meadowland, Minnesota. Sam placed the order himself. Unbeknownst to him, the hubcap is his birthday present.
Greg and Veronica commission a painted and personalized hubcap for Sam. Commission, good in that I generally do something I wouldn’t otherwise do. Out of my comfort zone. New challenge. Problems arise. Solutions follow.
Once upon a time, I painted my first hubcap (9-11/08 You Rock!). Didn’t necessarily like the experience, but I liked end result. The exhibition, at the Mesa Arts Center, very hip. Artists created cool and thoughtful designs.
This second round of hubcap painting, a good time from the start. Feeling open. I research a few choice subjects, learn some interesting things I’ll be considering to use. I start to paint. Two challenges. One, design of the hubcap itself, space is compartmentalized in a way that doesn’t suit my original idea. Enter in…a new idea.
Two, painting on metal…bleh. It doesn’t f-e-e-l good. A hubcap is a hard, unforgiving, and an easy to damage surface. Not like a beautiful smooth sheet of BFK or Arches paper or heavy-duty, giving to the touch, pristine canvas. Sand and prime, sand and prime.
The Studebaker emblem, in the center…it’s supposed to be an ‘S’ but it looks more like a ~ (…squiggle) to me. I know what to do with it.
Why a Studebaker hubcap? Let me tell you about Sam…
Indeed, Sam has a Studebaker. Sam has several cars. And a Harley Davidson bike. He’s designed for himself, one beautiful garage. He spends time in that space. Check out the striking black and white floor tile, it’ll appear in the final hubcap design.
I meet Sam and Francene, over spring break, up in Northern Arizona. The information gathering begins quickly.
I learn Sam is born in Missouri, and now lives in Arizona, with his wife, Francene. Francene is in on the surprise. She shares how they meet. I decide, after her account, the relationship has to be Kismet. The circular center S/~ (…. squiggle) on the hubcap will become a yin/yang, symbolizing a balance of female and male energy. It’s what I see between them, strong balance.
Sam’s a retired Engineer (Aviation?…maybe. Aerospace?…maybe.). We have dinner at La Posada, in Winslow Az (yes…we do sing The Eagles song while arriving there). He talks about building Apache helicopters. An unusual conversation, in an off the beaten path location, with an extra-ordinary man, good company, spirited waiters, and excellent food. Told you this was fun. I learn Sam can build just about anything. And he’s green! Veronica enthusiastically says. Meaning…he’s conscientious and recycles. The shelving for his garage comes from the close out sale, of a CVS. I like Sam. He’s creative. Engineers usually are. I get the sense that he enjoys learning and maybe even teaching his skills. He appreciates history. While walking the restaurant grounds, he tells me about Mary Jane Colter, the early American architect, who created the landmark building we’re walking through. He talks about her as though he knows her. I’m impressed. He’s kind and generous, and has a precision about him. I learn from friends he faithful, loyal and LOVES Dos Equis beer. When I hear the latter, I know the emblem will appear in the hubcap design.
His favorite animal, at the moment, is the mountain lion, hence the paw designs on either side of the hubcap. He describes the animal as strong, elusive and vulnerable. Purple, he tells Veronica (cuz she asks), is his current favorite color. He describes it as regal, stoic and compatible. These descriptive words say something about him. They’re the last design element to go into the circular composition. I paint the outer edge of the rim a deep purple, with a copper metallic wash, and I place in the text.
Overall, I get the sense that Sam is an intelligent and thoughtful man. He’s comfortable in blue jeans, a cowboy hat and boots. I want to put his distinct profile into the hubcap. The small areas don’t allow me enough room. I do include a small frontal view portrait. Though my preference would be, that it appear larger. Design is resolved. It’s balanced, measured out, and clear.
I realize only now as I write, Sam is a Taurus. An earth sign. Fixed fire. No wonder he felt so familiar to me. Both my husband and my dad are Bulls….persevering, down-to-earth, stable, stubborn, possessive, prosperous, dependable, and physical. Now I see why I instinctively put that copper wash atop the purple. Copper is the Bull’s metal.
Both Sam and Francene have interesting histories they openly share. This circle of life…is sure to continue.
Happy Birthday Sam. And many more!