“My Typewriter” – The Journey
By Brenda Elise Finne
Vision: June 25, 2015 – Completion: January 24, 2016
On a frenzied afternoon June 25, 2015, I was at the office day job typing on the computer.
Speeding on the keyboard faster and faster – my hands stopped abruptly in mid-air. The keys were flying at me in all directions – jumping, flipping, and bouncing off of each other. “My keyboards gone wild”, I shouted. Sometimes my imagination gets the better of me.
Giving the vision 2 weeks to percolate in my mind I was ready to turn it into something magical. Would it be a dance, poem, story, or a painting? The painting won out.
Some people travel to distant countries and share their pictures – my adventures are through my artwork. For this journey, I share my tale on completing “My Typewriter”.
NOTE: I included “in-betweens” – those interruptions in life when you cannot focus on your artwork. They can be frustrating, but on the flip side – they force me to “pause” and allows the thinking to germinate quietly as I come up with better solutions.
Sunday, July 12, 2015 – The journey beings.
Found the right size canvas – long rectangle.
Traveled down memory lane searching for a picture of a typewriter on the intranet. Found one that reminded me of my first manual typewriter before electric. I had to punch hard to get the keys to work, yet, not too fast or my little fingers would slip through the empty space between the keys.
In-between: “My Typewriter” got sidelined and was making me feel guilty as it sat on the easel nagging me to get back to work on it. I had to complete a project related to “Shoe Banter”, a commercial art venture I created with my sister Joyce.
Sunday, Aug 2, 2015: First step: Create a basic keyboard.
I cut 60 little funny shapes with faux black leather thinking this would be the background for the keys that I would enhance with layers of different colored textiles. I thought the colors would pop out against the black, but it didn’t work. The little black shapes got in the way. I would have to rethink it.
At the local craft store, I found thick spongy material in an array of colors. That first chosen material is not the end-all, but it’s what sets the stage.
I had no idea how I was going to make the keys zing and show them “flying” out of the canvas, thrusting outward. One idea was to poke wires through the canvas – I first tried with Key #6” but the canvas wood frame blocked it – finally it was Key “7” that worked.
I didn’t gain much momentum today, but I took the first step – sometimes the hardest.
In-Between: My boyfriend Adrian and I went on an adventure to Yellowstone (never been), and Idaho for my niece’s wedding. “My Typewriter” lingered in the back of my mind as we traveled the wild west.
August 30, 2015
Now I have a deadline – I’ve been invited to participate in an art event on October 23rd. I change my strategy so I can get it done on time! Adrian is away for a week, so I’m able to leave the painting on our table. (At the time we lived in a small apartment with one table where we ate our meals.)
Saturday – I planned to complete the basic foundation for all the keys then add the squiggles, zigs, and zags. I had to figure out how I was going to attach the paper that the typewriter types on. Left this open-ended question in the back of my mind to be dealt with later.
Sept 2, 2015
I had to recut Key No. 5 numerous times, could not get the size right, walked away from it and had lunch, came back – figured it out.
When I’m losing patience with myself I stop – take a break – then – get back to work. Doesn’t help the art piece when you’re getting in a negative frustrated state-of-mind.
I discovered my ink pens worked on the canvas – a relief because I was having difficulty using paint.
Sept 5 & 6, 2015
Yeah – Finished the Key’s!!
My trip to the craft store a few weeks ago was worth the time and $. The spongy material was a game-changer. Being open leads you to a path where you had no intention of going. If you trust where it’s leading you – it usually works. When you overthink it – it unravels into chaos.
It was late Saturday night and I was still struggling with how to add the “paper roll”. I thought I would have to go to the craft store the next morning to find something that would work but after 2 hours of playing with it, I finally figured it out.
Done! I celebrated with a gelato ice cream – and went to bed.
September 7, 2015 (Labor Day – no day job)
Now I had to figure out what I was going to write on the paper attached to the typewriter.
After a week of constant writing during my little pockets of downtime; it came together.
By Brenda Finne
My typewriter does a song and dances as I type a pretty story. Happily playing along with my tap tap tapping, the words skip, and….this is not working.
I crumble the paper and start again.
My typewriter has a mind of its own. She writes the stories with little help from me, I’m just punching the keys as fast as I can.
I found her in the back of an antique store amongst cobwebs and old books. Hungry to hear her voice again, the stories pounced onto the blank page as soon as I got her home.
My typewriter is an extension of me – wondering just as I am – where are the twists and turns going to be? Will, “The End” be months or years from now? Will my momentum keep chugging along?
Only time will tell.
For now, I just keep typing.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to get this on bigger paper. I printed different fonts on legal size paper, but it wasn’t working.
Adrian was away for 3 days, so I could leave the bits and pieces on our little table.
Sunday, Sept 13, 2015
Now I needed to focus on the keyboard again, it looked like it was floating and didn’t feel like a typewriter. I added a border to tie it together.
September 19, 2015
The borders needed a bit more punch – the texture was too simple. Played with thin colored wire, but it wouldn’t stick with the glue. Then tried different color embroidery thread and ended up using yellow. I added blue and green dots for more texture.
Added the words!
Blended the paper onto the canvas using a palette knife with glass bead gel.
In-Between: Adrian and I have been looking for a bigger place to live for a few years – and we’re in the East Bay San Francisco area – a nearly impossible feat. Yet, through good old fashion serendipity an opportunity fell into our laps for an apartment to rent, but, we had to move on Oct 24th! We had day jobs, commitments, plus I had the Art Show Oct 23rd. Yikes!
Through divine intervention, I was going to have to get the piece done for the art show which I somehow did – sort of (read further to find out what happened).
September 26, 2015: Adrian had been telling me all along that the words on the paper didn’t work. “The words should “match” the keyboard”, funny – lively – quirky. The typed words were too serious. But we were preparing to move – I couldn’t focus on figuring it out.
October 22, 2015: The day before the art show I brought my 3 pieces (which included “My Typewriter”) to the venue for the curator. The day of the art show I was excited yet exhausted from all the preparations for the movers who were coming the next day. Not knowing what to expect I showed up and realized my tiredness helped me stay calm, yet still nerve-wracking not knowing how people were going to respond.
October 23, 2015: Night of the art show! Two of my art pieces worked – I received positive honest feedback, but “My Typewriter”, didn’t work at all. Nobody knew how to respond. They were attracted to the colors, but no one took the time to read the words. Frustrated, I realized they were too small. I wanted to read them out loud to anyone who walked by – but I knew it had to be able to stand on its own – without a performance. The words were an integral part of the piece – they tied it all together. “My Typewriter” failed.
I was too exhausted to let it bother me, but I was well aware that it needed more work. I had no idea what I was going to do, though I knew it probably had something to do with the words, not the keyboard. For now, I had to move to our new home and unpack. This would be dealt with later.
Inbetween: Unpacked…unpacked…unpacked… Lots of unpacking.
I was aching to get back to “My Typewriter”, but I had an “Inbetween” which turned out to be the solution to my problem: I promised my nephew Jeremy an art gift for his new home. The gift was based on his favorite words from the Barnum musical, “The Color Of My Life”.
I printed the words and transposed them on tissue paper with different colored pens – walla! That’s what I would do with ‘My Typewriter”. Thank you Jeremy!
If I hadn’t worked on Jeremy’s art piece, I’m not so sure I would have figured it out.
December 24, 2015 – Jan 10, 2016
Day off! Finally – I figured out how to fix the words.
Covered the typed words with white thick paint so I could start all over again.
First, I printed the words in a large font size, then, cut and glued it on the paper. Covered it with tissue and wrote over the words with colored pens.
Now I let it sit on the easel for a week pondering if I should play with it some more. Through much bantering in my mind I decided – no, – it’s finished. It works. It’s done!
June 25, 2015 – January 24, 2016
By Brenda Finne