I've been back in the States for about week now and am settling back into a normal routine with restoration work. Working abroad worked out fine - but it feels like a luxury now to be back in my home office with a standing desk and large monitor. Sean told me the negative scans we have for Church & State I are looking fantastic, so I'm looking forward to working on those once I finish the original art scans I'm focusing on right now.
I suppose this is old news by now (thankfully), but I wanted to share a few thoughts related to Dave's recent health crisis. First of all, I share everyone's relief at his recovery and good wishes for his continued improvement. I also want to echo Sean's comments about the way a crisis like this puts things in perspective. In the day-to-day you become occupied with immediate concerns and small difficulties - but when you're forced to shift focus, then you see the world in a new light and your real priorities become clearer.
The best examples of art do this too - though ideally without a trip to the hospital.
I found that travel can also produce a perception-shift, though for me it was fairly subtle. People warn you about reverse culture shock when you return home after living in another country. But when I got back to San Diego, I just felt a renewed sense of gratefulness for everything in my life - my home and spouse, friends and family (including two precious-beyond-belief baby nieces) - everyone I love and the memories I have here.
I hope that as the recovery process continues, Dave and all those who care about him will find ways to see beauty in the impermanence and fragility of every human endeavor.
Heartfelt philosophizing aside, I did find one very specific thing unchanged when I returned to San Diego. Getting back to work on C & S I, I discovered that I really need a good reference copy of my own to work from - especially for a page like this:
As you can see, the outline of the bird has been mostly obscured by a bad ink spill. There's simply no way to clear this up without consulting the original printing. I remembered seeing a pristine copy of C & S I at a used bookstore (excuse me - a used "ookstore") a while back and returned a couple days ago to see if it was still there.
It was a fun experience to walk into this haphazard place, cramped with piles of books everywhere, nothing alphabetized (of course if I owned an ookstore, it would be compulsively organized!) - and go straight to the thing I wanted, still in the same spot I remembered from months ago.
Book in hand, I was able to finish working on the ink-spilled page yesterday:
Middle-- scanned from my reference copy. Bottom-- cleaned original art
Come to think of it, coming back from a long trip, or emerging from a crisis, or having a brush with mortality - all of these things can make the world more vivid to the senses. For example, I now realize that San Diego air has a particular, delicate scent - probably something to do with the ocean - that had become so familiar to me that I stopped perceiving it until I left and then came back again. My goal with the cleanup process for Church & State I is to give readers a similar experience of renewed vividness - to bring out details that had been obscured, to make the familiar new again.