Workin’ Off the Grid

It began as a simple request because Grampa was coming up to Fresno anyway for a DIY project with his dad…”Why don’t you come too so you can paint a mural of the Black Knight on my bedroom wall?” Well, who ever turns down a request from a grandkid if it’s at all humanly possible?

All things army and related to weapons are Peter’s cup of tea at eleven. Nerf swords, maces and battle axes litter his bedroom floor. And it probably helps that his sister’s a plebe at West Point whose logo of the Black Knight would be a perfect addition to his room as far as he is concerned said all in one persuasive breath. Who was I to say I’m not sure I can do it?

Thanks to the internet, I printed off a stylized logo of the Black Knight, then created a 1″ horizontal and vertical grid over the image. Enlarging the grid five times on the wall using a crude plumb line and pencil, I was ready to locate the corresponding references points of each small square and hopefully translate them accurately to the larger grid on the wall. After many erasures, I finished the enlarged image just in time to figure out what all the hype was about at a late afternoon showing of Hunger Games.

Donning my paint apron on Saturday, I began testing colors. Both the gold and grey paints were too intense straight from the bottle grandson Scott and I agreed. Adjusting the colors, I began filling in the appropriate areas. People drifted in and out of the room to visit as the Black Knight began to emerge. Scott hung out with me most of the morning chatting about the specifics of a mural painting process. At one point he informed me that he’d told all his friends that his “cool grandmother” was painting a mural in his brother’s room.  I probably would attempt painting the Sistine Chapel in his room if he was interested!

Oldest grandson, Kevin, a construction manager busily engaged in building a hospital in the Bay area, was home for the weekend with his new twelve string guitar. Absolutely nothing makes the paint flow off my brush better than listening to him effortlessly pick his way between the classical music and jazz. I am totally down with making art in community, especially with family.

Middle grandson Tim breezed in after water polo practice and was impressed with what was happening. Wheels began to turn. A huge fan soccer fan of Chelsea United, he headed for his computer to find an image of their logo. Observing the process of gridwork I’d used for the Black Knight, Tim’s decided he might be able to replicate the process. Somehow or other, I imagine I might eventually be called in as an “advisor” to help with drawing and painting a large blue circle surrounding a blue rampant lion.

Even son Dave has assured me that I’ve passed the mural painting test and thinks I ought to move on and paint a large icon to cover the recessed, wall-mounted TV he and his dad installed over the weekend. He has no idea what he’s suggested artistically. And my husband has assured me it’s not possible to do what Dave has in mind. Oh, well… 

Plebe Judy hopes that the Black Knight watching over her brother as he sleeps each night will ultimately influence him to attend West Point. Who knows? All in all, it was delightful workin’ off the grid, creating outside my familiar territory, playing a unique role in this portion of our extended family, watching my son and daughter-in-love work as a team parenting their children. The 1″ grid of my heart has been exponentially enlarged! With no erasures.

If you’ve ever worked off the grid…done something outside your comfort or confidence zone, what was it? How did it enlarge your heart? If you haven’t already created a piece of art to commemorate that experience, what would you create now?

Looking forward to hearing about your workin’ off the grid experiences.



6 comments to Workin’ Off the Grid

  • maureen

    You have a new job as mural painter with the middle school set…beautiful work.

  • Jan Crews

    I frequently hear, “You’re the best grandma ever,” from my g’babes. It makes my day every time I hear it! Great work!!

  • WEEHUUU! Everything about this is SO good, from the family connections, to working outside the grid, to the writing and to the marvelous finished project. They should now call you the Sistine Grandmother!

  • Kit Ripley

    I have been invited to paint an abstract painting during a contemporary worship service in Chiang Mai this Friday night. I will have the full hour and a half to complete the painting, and will work at a table on the floor, next to the stage. The painting process is intended to be part of the worship experience. This is totally “off my grid”. Although painting IS a worshipful prayer experience for me, I have never painted in front of other people before. I’m feeling totally intimidated by the idea. Plus, it normally takes me 6-10 hours to complete a painting, but this time I will have just 90 mins. Mercy, Lord! I’m really going to have to rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit to pull this one off!

  • Judy Farrow

    awww this makes me wish i was home so so much! the mural turned out beautifully, grandma! and if peter or any of the boys end up coming to west point, i know the black knight will have been an influence. 🙂 <3 love you!

  • Judy Siudara

    When I was a pediatric nurse at St.John’s Hospital many years ago , the walls on the floor and in each child’s room were plain. I was very blessed to work w/ a very creative LVN, Helen, who wondered aloud about putting designs on the walls. Permission was obtained and Disney characters were the chosen design. I had never done wall painting before, except in my boys’ bedrooms, in the privacy of my home. It was such a pleasant,and stressful, and creativity – increasing experience. Off the grid, never done before. Very satisfying and affirming of the creative process. Judy Siudara

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