The door has been at the edge of my consciousness for the years I have been walking this road but recently I realised that I have come to be very fond of it. It is the door to pitch of the local football club. It took a long time to register what was behind the high, wavering brick wall that is topped with ivy monsters. The wall itself is enough to look at.
Every now and again I’d see a lot of cars parked along the road outside and I vaguely assumed that the old folks home next door was swamped with visitors which made me feel uncomfortably good about human nature. Balance was restored however when I (eventually)realised it was training night.
Part of the doors charm for me is the wall it is set into with its rough red bricks and stones and plaster. I also like that it’s blue and a bit battered and that the paint at the end has worn way to reveal an undercoat of cyan. I also like that the unequal lengths of dried out wood that have been fitted into the frame are veined with ivy stems but it is the hand painted sign on the door that has been nagging my eye each time I pass. I decided to take some photos before some well-meaning club person replaced it with a ‘proper’ sign.
Years ago in art college I made extra money by doing sign writing. I seemed to have some natural aptitude for lettering. It was only later that I found out that some of my ancestors had been stone carvers in Roscrea in Tipperary and that many of the gravestones there were fashioned by them.
Anyway, though I have not the talent of the great coach painters of old, I have a feel for lettering and as I copied the sign for a watercolour I really began to appreciate the charm of this particular sign.
It is painted on a piece of thin ply and is pinned onto the metal door at each corner with now rusted nails. The blue paint is peeling away at the edges and is been rubbed away in the middle and the lettering makes me think the sign was painted quite a while ago, maybe even back in the 70s, which means that whoever primed the wood knew what they were doing. (Someone will now comment and tell me is was done last year….)
Though each letter is always made the same way no two are exactly the same. The ‘g’ particularly caught my eye. It is not the easiest ‘g’ you could do and this alone let me know that the painter was more interested in doing the job properly than getting it done fast another clue that it was painted more than a year or two ago.
The spacing is not exact either but there is a certain flow to the words that the irregularities seem to accentuate rather like mossy rocks in a fast running stream. It is easy to see there is a knowledge of letters and each line of type is exactly straight to my satisfaction. If there’s one thing that drives me crackers in signs or photos is an off beam horizon line. It makes me dizzy and irritable.
There are a couple of random commas too which curiously are more charming that irritating. They seem to speak of the painters eagerness to get the job done properly.
Not all hand-painted signs have this charm, in fact very few do and I was surprised at the pleasure copying this sign gave me which as I write I realise may sound a bit sad in more than a few quarters. It’s out now though. I’m a sign nerd.
The original watercolour for which I copied the sign was a disaster but the experience of doing it was more than enough compensation.
To explain the current disastrous painting, last week I splashed out on a fancy-pants new watercolours set with artists quality paint and so at the moment I am on my best behaviour with it, trying to keep it new. I do this for a short period with everything I buy convinced that this time my wrecker gene will be circumvented. It will not last long but while it does it is resulting in some hilariously tight pictures. Even the weather vane in the last post suffered. You could say that my chicken was overwrought which is the censored version of what just passed through my head….
After a couple of more tries with the watercolours I decided to do a pen and ink drawing. When I had finished that I surreptitiously coloured it in with the watercolours while my left brain was busy elsewhere. A back door watercolour if you like…