Even with the speed of electronic ordering over the net, it took a week to get Lucy's paper prints. I had two copies of three different images made. I simply painted in a background for color and texture on the first copy of each. It was what would have been called a studio background in the old days. I did it using black and white oils which I mixed to various shades. Very subtle shade of red were hidden in the black and white mixture. It wasn't especially hard to do, but it was time consuming. Getting get just the right pattern while using the simple colors proved more difficult to execute than I would have imaged.
With the frame refinishing, the painting, and trimming of the prints, I managed to make the job last a month. During that month I rode to the river everyday for an hour or two. It was a very pleasant time in my life.
Lucy came by almost every night to check on the progress. She was almost, but not quite, ready to allow me to use the extra copy of the nude with her face visible. I felt that it was far better than the one with the 1920's style mask painted over her face. Even the large feather growing from the mask wasn't much help. It was a bit mysterious, but I thought it looked contrived.
The beauty of Lucy's body was that it was real. It wasn't perfect and we didn't try to improve it in the editors. It was just as it would have been shot fifty years before with film. I have a warm feeling for Lucy and it showed in the Rubinesque image.
As always happens there came a day when everything was ready for a show. It was just in time since Lucy found me a mall show in Jacksonville. I rented her and her car to transport the framed images to the show. The rent was gas money and the promise of a fancy dinner in Jacksonville after the show.
I should have checked with the show's organizer myself. I had been more or less assured by Lucy that all I had to do was show up. I had already paid the 200 bucks for the rental space so I couldn't back out.
Instead of including everything I needed, the fee included only one folding table and two folding chairs. It was a good thing we checked in an hour early since we had to run all over the mall to find stands for the prints. Easels came in different sizes and materials so it was just guesswork on our part. We were able to exchange a couple that were just too small. In the end I had prints on the table print on stand alone easels and prints leaning against the legs of the easels. I even had prints leaning against the table itself. Those had to sit on empty cardboard boxes so they would be high enough to lean against the table top.
My display looked like a discount store after an explosion inside. It was hideous but it was also my first one so I hadn't expected too much. I barely made the deadline for the exhibit opening. Even so I doubted that they would have said too much if I had finished late. People weren't exactly lined up to see any of the vendor's work.
I did sit around talking to people between cups of really good, but really expensive coffee. Lucy went home after the first hour and I was glad. I loved Lucy like a fatherly pervert, but she was a bit taxing since she was so much younger.
My first sale of the day was around lunch. A gay decorator and his fag hag came by. He bought two of my boat prints. He was impressed with the depth and lighting contrast. It was a lot different from the little old lady who commented, "I like it but it's the wrong colors for my bathroom."
The sale of the two pictures paid my rent for the show. I was almost at the break even point from that sale alone. It turned out to be a good thing since I didn't have another sale until late afternoon. Then it was an older couple, who said they were decorating a basement, who came in. I expected them to be interested in one of the boat pictures, instead they bought the nude of Lucy with the mask. I was way past surprised I was shocked.
The man actually went to the ATM machine for the money while his wife waited. There had been some interest in the nudes, but at $250 no one put up any money. I didn't tell the older couple that it was very unlikely that anyone would walk up with the money, should they decide to go to dinner first.
So by the end of day one I had gone into the black on the show, except for the easel purchases of course. I didn't really care about the money as much as I did the positive feedback from the mall shoppers. One of the comments I heard over and over was, "I really love this but it's not the right size." Some people thought they were too large, while some thought they were too small. I decided that for the next show I would make some smaller prints, however I just couldn't see lugging around anything larger. I would just have to accept that I would lose the 'It's too small' shoppers to someone else.
That very first day I found that the number one consideration was not the print itself. It was the size and would the colors match. Those things were beyond my control after I made the print so it seemed best to do a little of everything and just let the chips fall.