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RVs and Art

January 30, 2011

(Note:  This article appeared in the Art Blog on 11/30/2010)

It’s been an odd few weeks since our last show almost a month ago.  I’ve already started bringing some old skills back to my art, in addition to painting.  I had plumbers and contractors coming and going several days before Thanksgiving to deal with a leaking water heater.  We spent a wonderful week in Austin with some of our kids and grandkids.  The general contractor still has to return to replace sheetrock and possibly an entire shower.  Things are not normal, but they are all part of life.  On the drive home from Houston, we did some serious talking about the future.  That’s not unusual, but this time the calendar played a large part in our conversation.  Nell’s retirement is a year away.  The clock is ticking.

For those who haven’t picked up on it yet, it has always been our intention, once we are both retired, to sell our house and live and travel in an RV.  After much vacillating between trailer or motorhome, we’ve about decided that a used Class C motorhome, towing a small car, is the way we want to go.  Something around a 31 footer should be about right.  We’ve looked a bit, but now the search needs to get serious.  And while we’re at it, over the next year, we have to reduce our belongings down from 1500 square feet to 240 square feet.

I know.  We’re nuts.  But anyone who has followed our art festival adventures for the past year already knows that.  We are a unique couple.  We enjoy a quiet, laid back lifestyle.  We don’t argue… never have.  Disagreed at times over small things, but there’s always been a lot of give and take in our marriage of twenty years.  We know how to compromise, and we know how to get along.  We’ve lived in small apartments, and have done without things that were stored for a year or more, not really missing them.  We enjoy nice things, but that’s the point: they’re just things.  We want more out of life in our remaining years.  It’s time for the grand adventure.

Yes, it’s over a year away.  But we’ve learned that as one gets older, time moves ever faster.  We don’t want to end up regretting that we never did this.  So, even though it’s still a year away, we have to get started with the preparations.  There’s a lot to get rid of.  A lot of hard decisions to make regarding what will go with us and what gets left behind.  A lot of planning… about art, and shows, and storage, and work space.  We’ve already decided that whatever RV we get will require some modifications to allow for painting and drawing.  It will have to have “basement” storage for an entire art festival booth.  There will need to be storage for art supplies and finished work.  This is where working in gouache, watercolor, pencil and pen & ink become important.

Artwork that’s stored in tubs will have to be culled, paperwork in file cabinets, desk drawers and credenzas will have to be reduced to the necessities, books (oh, the pain) will have to be reduced to a minimum.  Dishes, cookware, and utensils will need to be pared down to the essentials, closets need to be emptied and clothing has to be reduced.  We have boxes of frames, most of them unusable garage sale stuff acquired over years, that need to be gotten rid of.  What to take… and how much… will be agonized over in the next year.

We’ve moved so many times in twenty years that the change in dwelling isn’t an issue.  There are no emotional ties to this townhouse.  Many of the things we own have been acquired over the past nine or ten years since a fire destroyed most of what we had before.  There are only a few things that have sentimental value to us today.  The rest has been part of simply refurnishing and decorating a house.  Our children and grandchildren are scattered, all living in different cities or states.  We’ve learned that, for us, simply being together, wherever it may be, has been the key to our happiness.

We want to finally take the time to see the country… to explore… to paint or draw what we find.  I’d like to actually meet some of the many artist friends I’ve acquired in the last few years, to have a cup of coffee, see their work up close.  My work will probably be mostly small, but that’s okay.  It should improve with new subjects and new ways of seeing things.  And small work and reproductions will be good when we find those little town square art fairs.  It should provide a lot of blogging material as well.

The biggest challenge will be making a place to paint and draw, and storage for art related things.  But to get there, I have to start unloading a lot.  I’m a packrat.  What books have I not looked at in over a year?  What artwork have I not seen in a long time because it’s stored in tubs in a closet?  What’s important… and what’s just simply been kept because there was space to keep it?  It’s going to be a year of decisions and a year of plans.  It’s not going to be easy.  But it’s going to go by fast.  We’re ready to start the process.

Stay tuned.

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