By Anita Garner
I go to the thrift shop to donate but can’t leave until I check the bin full of castoff art. Is this a paint-by-numbers piece? Is it from a student? Or from a professional painter whose early work was given up too soon? Are these flowers from an artist momentarily adrift in a garden of self expression?
I own several other pieces that look like they could have been done by a person who went home early from the community center art class. I say this with love. I admire the gumption it takes to make a picture of anything, any time.
I rescue abandoned canvasses and wonder, were they created with love and given away, then secretly discarded by the recipient? The only two things we know is that someone made these and someone didn’t want them.
I’ve seen stories on TV about people who collect old paint-by-numbers canvases and many narrow their search to a particular subject – horses or trees or dogs or boats or barns. I’m not picky about subject matter, though I do seem to have several examples of flowers painted with varying degrees of verisimilitude. (I’ve been hoping to use that word all week, ever since I convinced the Grand it’s really a word.)
My knowledge of odd collections comes from “CBS Sunday Morning” which often takes us to meet people who own many examples of an unusual kind of thing. If I had the space, I’d keep going. Mine are now sprinkled around the house, in the kitchen, the office, and these two new pieces with the black backgrounds are looking great in a bathroom.
As I paid my $4.99 and $1.5o at the counter, the checker, a beautiful young woman dressed head to toe in vintage chic, smiled as she rang them up. She said, “I love it when they’re signed.” Me too. Then she told me she plans to start painting. I expressed what I hope was the proper appreciation. But there’s more, she said. She has a specific plan for her art. She’s going to sign them all and give them names and then donate them. They won’t go to anyone she knows. They won’t hang on her wall at home. They’re going straight to the thrift store where she works, eliminating a middle person who may not have fully appreciated them anyway. I get it.
If my new vintage-loving acquaintance’s plan to paint and donate comes to fruition, every time I pick up a castoff canvas I’ll get to wonder if its one of hers.