To the Wire

Racing against the clock, painting like mad. 5 days to go, counting today.

It is 4 AM… my left eye has been twitching involuntarily for days, I suppose as a result of eyestrain; My shoulders and back and knees were sore a week ago… I have no idea what I would label them now, but something a bit more.

The painting I was supposed to have 4 months to paint.. began 8 days ago, and I have 5 days left. I worked day and night all these weeks prior to get the drum built and primed, while trying as best I can to coordinate everything else going on… all those intricacies from logistics to PR to just trying to get a few dollars here or there for another bucket of primer, another handful of bolts, seeking helpers for some of the two or three-person tasks like raising and lowering the roof on the central cylinder…

And now, finally, painting until 3 or 4 AM every night… counting down how many days I have/panels I have remaining, dividing one by the other to keep a loose plan.

I did a painting this week that previously would have taken me over a month, and at three times my usual working size, in just 2 days – and think it is amazing what a person can do when they set their mind to it. I suppose I always think this… as I am always putting myself to some new and semi-impossible test. I guess I am not happy if I am not putting my butt on the line to cover a check my daydreaming mind has written… by the seat of my pants, with all the unforeseen obstacles and stumbling blocks between…

My fiancee, also an artist, is thankfully, extremely patient in watching me do this, regularly – and given the size and scope of my  projects, or my obsession over trying to make it as an artist, is often made an art widow… for weeks, months… as I pour hundreds of hours and many sleepless weeks, into another new piece… a commission sold to pay down bills, or in hopes of buying some building materials for the “work in progress” : our eventual living space… with walls and wiring in place… waiting for things like a ceiling, flooring, fixtures… 3 years in, a box of screws where I can, a 2×4 or a sheet of drywall when able… very similar to how the building of the mural drum went.

On which: it is relieving, and frightening to finally be painting… time ticks down… and I think back to when this began… March… I’ve been at this project in some stage or another, 16 or more hours a day… since … March… over half of a whole year…

But there is good reason for this insanity. I really do feel we have a chance of winning this thing if we can pull it all together as planned.

To me, this is not just about exposure – I worked many months at planning this project – sat up 16 to 72 hours at a time online pushing our initial fundraiser, waited all night on April the 17th, waiting for Artprize registration to open so I could be the first in and first seeking venues, building on our site, sketching out plans and designs, spent months writing to my few choice venues trying to get our foot in the door, site building, making movies and animations, design mockups… seeking sponsorship…. into the months of building the drum to paint on, scrounging change for primer, wood, and and screws by the end of it… building away, until the drum was made and primer down, to where I could finally paint…

We are each thousands of hours into this thing, and for each of us thousands of dollars have gone away, one more board, another bucket of glue, primer, a pack of sandpaper, a box of screws, bolts, knobs… hundreds of days, documented in random snap shots of exhausted artists, each ending another 16 hour day… I don;t know what keeps them together, but for me… well…

I remind myself every hour of every day, that if we can possibly win this thing – I’ll be able to buy that ring for Bethalynne I have never been able to buy, organize a ceremony, take my first real vacation in the nearly 40 years I’ve been around… and finally make it back to my hometown to see my family, who I miss so much… maybe not being so tied up in work and finances that I can actually be a a good uncle to my nieces and nephews… sending cards, returning home for birthdays/Christmas/Thanksgiving… maybe even put a real roof over our heads and *finally* not be living out of boxes as we have these three years… dental work for myself and my mate… medical insurance maybe… in all, a life… a real chance at life… even if just one sunny day elsewhere not crammed behind my desk trying to make something work out for us, or spending the days behind a table at another convention.

I see, dream of, many good things on the horizon, but not if I, for even a second, shed the “do or die” state of mind I have been in for the past nearly 7 months…. just 5 days more… scary as all Hell… but I *will* make it.. I’ve pushed too hard for too long not to.

Please keep me, and mine, along with my team, and all those helping in your thoughts and prayers. We’ve done an incredible amount of work, and an incredible job – but could certainly take and appreciate some winds in our favor and at least a few days of smooth sailing.

Friday, the 16th – we’ll be unloading at the Gerald R Ford Museum. September 21st Artprize officially begins. I am torn between wishing for later dates and being relieved…. whatever the outcome, I do hope you are there with us for this incredible event.

Peace, love, and warm wishes

– Myke Amend