The color wheel has gone virtual

Christine Graf

I read in the New York Times that New York Central Art Supply is closing after 111 years. The beloved vault of the color wheel, paper gods. markers yet to make their mark.

The beauty mark on my right thigh expands as I gain weight. Like a drop of Van Dyke brown that stays for a lifetime. My body is a canvas, and has yet to close its door.

Small businesses are putting closing up shop signs. To lose Dutch Holbein watercolors, miss the talk and benefit of French Sennelier oils versus Rembrandt. No more Carmine red, Real Teal in soft body acrylics. No more Luma dyes. No more Sharpies lined up in boxes like colored ribcages.

I lost my hair years ago, closed the door to my old body, another life. I painted myself in chemo carboplaitin to stave off closing the door for good.

I don’t know how I will find my way now without touching tablets, palette pastilles. Never to feast on the smorgasboard of all the touchables; forests of colored pencils, rulers, nubby Fabiano paper, the cool metal of paint tubes that remind me of papooses. No place to mother the full-bodied thickness of forest green. Not to roam the aisles of supplies stacked in towers and colors named by poets.

Christine Graf

My arms have the skin and folds of old deserts; age spots dot my pointillist hands. No more hands on. No more ordering my goodies from a woman named Cookie who had an artist’s inventory committed to memory.

Now I press PAYPAL for jet black gouache, where the flesh of paint sits on the back of the computer screen. Jerry’s Artarama is my go to place. Without the smell of old walls, wooden plank floors, mahogany shelves. Or to hear the advice from life long artists who worked for minimum wage as they told me of the virtues of a Kolinsky brush displayed in a bouquet of bristles.

New York Central Art Supply has left the premises.

My body’s doors are still open and I paint in every color.
My virtual fingers are spattered with invisible paint.