The Cross House
Years ago I watched a documentary on Dr. Seuss.
One part, in particular, fascinated me.
Seuss labored over every word he wrote. He could spend a week on a single sentence. He could agonize over a comma. He would put in a word, ponder it for hours, and then remove it. He would stare and stare and stare at another word and wonder: is this the perfect word? And then, after at last deciding a sentence was right and good and perfect, he would then think: OK! Now…can I remove some words?
To me, this sums up the creative process.
Creativity is not linear. It is chaos. It can often be agonizing.
Millions of children (and adults) have delighted in the words and drawings of Dr. Seuss. His words, which seem so simple, so perfect, were however only achieved through chaos.
Why am I writing this?
Because this week I have done several posts about my agonies in making sure that the exterior coloring of the Cross House is the best it can be. But this effort seems to upset, even alarm, some readers.
I am not however being obsessive or crazed. I am just trying. And this effort is creative.
Much of the work on the house is linear. Wiring is not creative. Nor is plumbing, plastering, refinishing wood, or putting paint on stuff. But decorating the parlor was intensely creative. And it proved so not linear. It jerked forward in fits and starts. I had to backtrack several times, wasting valuable time. Money was also wasted. At times, it felt as if I were close to the cliff edge of chaos.
Yet, in a blog post I did a year before decorating the parlor, I detailed my plans. And the finished parlor was much like I had planned. I used the same sofa, ordered the same center table, used the same side chairs, went ahead with the same wall color, the same wall stencil, and used the same curtains. In short, about 80% of what I had planned to do, happened, and effortlessly.
The remaining 20%? Chaos, baby. Total chaos.
But I am thrilled with the results. And I was also thrilled during the whole process. It was like a roller-coaster ride. Exciting and terrifying.
However, had I not been comfortable with chaos, that 20% would have been squashed and I would not be thrilled with the resulting room. There would always be a lingering sense of: Could I have done better?
Now, I have embarked on another creative venture: Trying to subtly enhance the exterior coloring of the house.
I am almost finished with the Great North Wall, and only now can I stand on the corner of the sidewalk and see two imposing facades, the west and north. And this large canvas has revealed something. Something uncomfortable.
I have been too conservative in my approach.
In pouring over the 1895 image of the house, I now realize that the house was not simply a wall color and a trim color. It appears that there were also accent colors. And these would have given the house a liveliness which was lacking in my scheme.
To rectify this, I have been making subtle adjustments. Well, I should say that we have been making subtle adjustments because my friends Patricia and Eric have contributed, and many readers have contributed ideas and photoshopped renderings which have proved enormously helpful.
What a crazy lot we are!
The eye on the huge north gable has been repainted. It is better but not yet brilliant.
The lower scrolled band on the tower has been repainted. I am thrilled with the results.
The garlands on the upper tower have been picked out in green, something I was 100% opposed to until Alex photoshopped the idea…and I was won over.
And guess what? Some liveliness had appeared on the scene!
Then I had the insane idea to treat the low/wide gable over the front steps like a framed picture. The picture itself would be, ah, different, and not matching anything else, color-wise. Eric then came up with outlier colors and I went ahead.
The results thrilled me.
And the liveliness factor increased!
Zac then appeared, offering unsolicited photo-shopped ideas. I was stunned. Fabulously so.
In short order, the capitals and bases on the porch columns were recolored in Zac’s brand new accent color, which I call color #5.
Liveliness increased! Whoee!
Zac also suggested painting the rectangles on the upper tower in #5. I was dead-set against this but Zac photo-shopped me into acceptance (I am eager to start this work).
There has been debate on the columns. Should they stay green? Or be lighter as shown in the 1895 image? Two days ago I painted two in a deep gold. I wasn’t thrilled with the results but sensed I was onto something. Chaos, baby! Chaos!
Then the color of the porch ceiling came into question. I have never painted it. Well, this question has engendered all sorts of ideas! Chaos!
So, what will the finished results looks like?
I have no idea.
Doe this concern me?
Not a whit.
- I have been doing this a looooooong time.
- I have learned that only by going down a road of chaos will beauty be revealed.
- I have a good sense of discernment. This really helps!