vendredi 15 mai 2009


"The color orange occurs between red and yellow in the visible spectrum at a wavelength of about 585 – 620 nm, and has a hue of 30° in HSV colour space. The complementary colour of orange is azure, a slightly greenish blue. Orange pigments are largely in the ochre or cadmium families, and absorb mostly blue light."

I opened the can. It was a very frightening moment (you can't return it once it has been opened). It was 10 pm. I began cutting into the freshly primed, starkly white, smooth wall. Only two previous painting moments in my life have been as unnerving: when I started cutting-in the deep terracotta color in my kitchen in Greenwich (God, what am I doing? Have I lost my mind? White is good! White is safe!), and when I began cutting-in with the Madras Red in Sam's room here a few years ago. Audouin had nearly had a heart attack when he saw it; it looked like a murder scene with those gashes of blood red paint. I had suddenly wished I had bolted the room shut until it was finished. There is something horrible in those first strokes of strongly colored paint against white primer.

"Ca va aller," I remember telling him. "Je te le promis que ça va aller." He was amazed when it was finished. He loved it.

Suddenly, the Marbre (marble) looked... dirty. Dull. Drab. Wrong. I had been so certain it was the thing to do, and at 50 euros a can, I didn't want to be wrong. I was also so certain it was the right color to go with the Cactus, the green in the adjacent room. The wall painted in Marbre is intended to be the continuous element. The high wall along the back of both rooms, separated by the lower bathroom. It's meant to tie them together and remind you that it is one volume, really. It brought sails and sneakers to mind as I rolled it on, not entirely unhappy that it didn't cover perfectly.

Returning earlier in the evening from a night on duty at the hospital, Audouin came to see the progress. He looked underwhelmed. I had been priming and painting the Marbre all day with a roller pad that kept falling off the roller. Worse, the walls may be smooth, but they are not regular. Getting the paint on everywhere was the sort of challenge my right shoulder, ruined from too many intense garden projects involving axes, chainsaws and shovels, and carpel tunnel syndrome can't take. I needed some praise and a little encouragement.

I wasn't getting any.

"C'est lequel le mur que tu vas laisser blanc?" I nodded to the rear wall that I had killed myself painting all afternoon.

"Ce n'est pas une sous-couche?" I practically started hearing a loud buzzing in my inner ear. No, I said, it is not primer; it is the paint.

"Non, ce n'est pas une sous-couche. C'est le blanc, "Marbre", du mur."

"Et les autres tu vas les peindre en orange?" Why did he sound so dubious? He wandered off to look at the paint cans on the shelves in the bathroom. I watched him. He fingered the can.

"Qu'est-ce que tu en penses?"

"Je ne suis pas un fou d'orange." I'm not crazy about orange. I might be crazy, but I really wanted to do it. Still, my walls looked really nice white. I'm just going to freshen them up with a coat of white paint. Sure. "Et ce vert," he continued, "je n'aime pas trop les verts non plus." I was batting 1000. I thought he'd like that one.

"Tu ne le trouves pas beau?"

"C'est un peu... khaki -- armée." Oh! But it isn't!

"C'est beau avec des blancs et des crèmes," I said lamely. I wasn't going to convince him no matter what I said. He'd have to see it done and then make up his mind. Right along with me. "Je les changerai si tu ne les aime pas une fois que j'aurai fini."

"Oh, je suis sur que ce sont des couleurs qui vont bien ensemble et sont jolies éclairées la nuit." He left to go get his kids. I cleaned my roller, wiped my hands and headed in to make dinner. I was on my own. I still am, for all I know.

I don't know if he looked in the Formerly Blue Room to see what I did after he went to bed. All I can think this morning is The Van Gogh Room; I can't wait to put vases of Bluebonnets, yellow irises, magenta peonies, purple-blue Cranesbill geraniums and lavender in here! and I hate Leroy Merlin for not saying the Dexter 180 mm pro paint roller does not work on the Dexter 180 mm "best buy" roller.

This has been sheer hell, but the Marbre was the right choice after all. All things look different when they are actually done and in the morning.

Meanwhile, the sink really is leaking from the plumbing (so much for the sea grass floor covering right now) and the dog fur and laundry are piling up in the house (I can't see you!). I don't want to know what Audouin is reduced to wearing for socks. I bought Sam underpants.


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