“Axle” A Short Story Of Love and Loss

This is a “portrait” of Axle, and a short story of (metaphorical?) love and loss. Axle used to sit by the side of the road between my small city and the town where my oldest daughter lives. With a peachy tan complexion, and wide eyes, Axle became a mile marker of sorts. One that my grandkids and I came to view as “our old car by the side of the road”. “There he is” they’d say, “there’s Axle”.

I had given him the name Axle due to the obvious fact that his front axle was broken, his tires askew. This just seemed to add to the charm of our roadside friend. It’s pretty accurate to say that we amorphized this charming old truck that, week after week, year after year sat vigilantly waiting for our passage.

The thing is that, Axle was not entirely forgotten by everyone other than us. Someone diligently repainted him every year. That is, for a few years anyway. Someone loved Axle as much as we did. He was never moved, or covered, but someone cared. He sat in a small patch of land between the road, a stream, and woods beyond.

Through the changing seasons, the glaring sun of summer, the fall of the leaves, the blowing snows of winter and when the wildflowers would bloom next to him, Axle was there.

But then something changed, some time passed since his last paint job, and the rust became more prominent. He was still charming, maybe even more so in his aged look, but something was definitely different.

And then came the day he was murdered! I drove by one spring day on my way to get the kids, and saw something that, well made me irrationally angry, and sad. Someone had shot Axle in his right eye! Our loyal mascot had become someone’s careless target.

I didn’t mention it to the kids, but they of course noticed. What could I say, there are just soulless people in this world. I just told them that ‘maybe someone would fix him, and he’d be back’, and we went by.

But that was not to be. Months went by and poor Axle sat forlornly with his fatal wound.

And then one day I drove by, and Axle was gone. I tried to console myself that someone was going to give him a new life. We were never to know. He was just gone.

Its funny how sometimes seemingly innocuous things can bring out feelings more than the things that are what most would consider really important. Maybe they’re a sort of surrogate emotional object. One that is easier, less dangerous to express our feelings about. I still miss him.

I think that right now, at this moment in history especially, we need to hold onto the little things that we may not be thinking about as much as usual. I’m glad that I had decided to paint the picture of Axle. It’ll always be a nice reminder of being with my grand kids and those sweet, silly moments that are really the most important moments.

Further Notes On Juneteenth in OTown

Continuing with the theme of my last post about having been asked to showcase my art at a local Juneteenth event, I managed to get two other paintings done in time to show along with the first, “Beautiful Son”. It’s always gratifying to be acknowledged as an artist, and this is especially so.

The second painting I did, I simply call, “Story Time”. It depicts a young father reading to his baby. Here are some photos of it, and the process of creating this piece. As you can see in the second photo, I drew up a sketch of what I had in mind. In the second, I filled in the background shape of a map of the USA, and began working on the figures. I continued from there, adding color and finishing up the figures to my liking. Once the painting was dry, I gave it a thin coat of acrylic gloss medium. This serves two purposes, it helps to protect the painting, as well as to highlight and maintain the bright colors. This is quite a bit smaller than the first painting, “Beautiful Boy”, for a few reasons, mostly concerning time constraints and having to use what I had on hand. It’s still a good size at 16″x 12″.

“Story Time”

The last piece I call, “Grace Under Pressure”. I didn’t get as many photos of the process of this as I was short on time, but I used basically the same process. I did a few quick sketches, (sorry they’re very light, but you get the idea.) From there, I then drew up an approximate sketch on the canvas, arranging, and changing features as I worked on it.

“Grace Under Pressure”

I hope it doesn’t sound egotistical, or worse, silly ( heheh), but I tend to fall in love with my paintings and these are no exception. I think I have even more so, because I feel that I have gotten to a place with my work where I feel more confident about it, as well as am able to create what I envision at a quicker pace. Not that that is important in and of itself. But for me as an artist, it is, as I feel these representations wanting out of my cranium, and am compelled to create them, to get them on the canvas. And now being at a point where I can do so more readily, makes it more of a joy and less tedious. I’m thinking that, in my next post, I may go over some of the tools I use, and give some pointers on my own process. Let me know if any of you think that you might like that, or not. (I’ll still probably do it. 😉

I wish everyone joy, and to stay safe, and I hope you join me next time!