After a dozen-plus years of covering it up, I have a confession to make.
One of my pictures wasn’t finished when I sent it to the printer.
And I sold the prints, anyway.
How could this have happened? Do you even look at your own pictures before you send them away to be copied? What kind of Bozo would make such a colossal mistake?
It could be that I was distracted by the intense detail of the drawing. It is not uncommon for me even now to get lost in the complexity of a design. All those teeny little black and white lines tend to run together after a while. Maybe I was really busy that week, getting ready for an art show or something. (And what work of art is ever really finished, anyway?)
But frankly, I blame my wife.
One day back before the turn of the century, as my Darling Dearest and I were engaging in our usual friendly banter, tossing healthy bits of encouragement, advice, and the occasional dense object back and forth at one another from our respective sides of the art studio, I offered the helpful observation that it was taking her an awfully long time to finish a particular illustration that had been occupying valuable space on her easel.
She responded lovingly that my comment bore more than a passing resemblance to certain pots calling kettles black, or perhaps toads calling frogs ugly, given that the Parrot drawing I was working on was itself taking its own sweet time crossing the finish line.
If memory serves, she even went so far as to bet dollars to donuts (or some equivalent consideration) that her Ark would be finished long before my Parrot took flight from my drawing board.
I was game. We set a weekend deadline, some three or four days hence, and the race was on. In a flurry of competitive energy sprinkled with endearments and epithets, we both managed to finish on time.
Or at least she did. Her painting was actually completed. My drawing wasn’t.
Not that I knew it at the time. Caught up in the intensity of the race, I overlooked the fact that there was a glaring hole in my picture until after it was sent away and scanned. And proofed. And delivered back from the printer. In fact, it wasn’t until I sat down to sign and number the full limited edition of 500 prints that I noticed one item on the Parrot composite was… missing. In one little spot I could see the faint grey outlines of my original pencil sketch – a small coin that I had missed entirely with the ballpoint pen.
So in addition to autographing and sequentially numbering each of the printed Parrot reproductions, I had to finish every single one of them, drawing in that little portion of the design, a pirate’s doubloon, that I had overlooked before. All 500 copies.
Of course I didn’t tell Zoo. (Didn't have to. Not much gets past that girl. She’s still laughing at me, more than a decade later.)
Fortunately, most of the evidence is gone by now. Now that nearly all of the Parrot prints have flown the coop, I’m finally able to ’fess up to my fellow Parrotheads, and all the other phun people who purchased a phaulty picture.
It’s embarrassing, of course, having to come clean this way, in a public forum, though it is some small consolation to finally shrug the heavy burden of guilt from my weary shoulders after all these years. The missus says it will do me good, but only after I finish clearing the table, and do the dishes. And fold the laundry.
Also on the plus side, every one of the limited edition prints is, in a small way, a unique piece of artwork. Every one is an original drawing. So if you were one of the four-hundred-and-ninety-plus people who paid cash money for a Parrot, you got a little bit extra for your patronage.
We have since had the image reprinted in a smaller, open edition. For this series, all I have to do is sign my name. No numbers – and no extra drawing to do. Before we sent it to the printer this time, the picture was completely finished.
About 500 times.