Once the "It's done" decision is made, there is the ritual of where to hang the painting in the studio while it dries. Hanging takes a number of tries with hammer and nails and the inevitable moving around of pieces that are already on the wall. It is so nice to see the new painting off the easel and in a temporary but suitable location with friends.
Then, there is the ritual of clean up. I like to start from scratch when I begin a new painting. That means all signs of the just finished painting are removed. All of my brushes are not only thoroughly cleaned but put back in their official holders. Every bit of paint is scraped off the palette so I can start with fresh color. The easel and other furniture are put in a corner.
When the painting I have just finished includes fruits, vegetables, and/or flowers, if that painting has taken more than a few days, there is one more very special ritual step. I gather together all of the fruits, vegetables, and flowers that are looking not quite as wonderful as they did when we first began the work. They often have bruises, signs of sagging and withering, a deadening of color, and a scent that is a little too strong. I put them all in a paper bag and, on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday, I drop them off at the Union Square Market on my way home from the studio. The Market has a special area for composting with large containers for deposits. It feels just right as I drop into the composting bin those many beloved apples, pears, cabbages, and other objects that I got to know so well. I can't imagine just throwing them away in the ordinary trash. They stay alive as they go into the making of compost or "black gold" that will help other vegetables, fruits, and flowers thrive. As compost, those still life objects have a life beyond my painting. I like that. As Ula and I walk the rest of our way home, we feel like we've done good work.