Tina Howe: Painting churches:  Crayons on radiators

Tina Howe: Painting churches: Crayons on radiators


Well I grew up in this apartment on 82nd between
Park and Lexington, and we had these old-fashioned radiator covers. They were metal that had
all these tiny little holes in them, I guess to let the heat out. And as a child -and I
loved coloring in my coloring books. I just loved to color. And I was sick all the time.
I was always home from school with a cold, and my mother brought me all these coloring
books, and I just loved it. So I had thousands of crayons, and I suddenly realized one day
that a sharpened crayon would fit into the hole in the radiator. So I used to grab my
Crayola and force it into the radiator hole and then watch it melt. Once I did that to
one crayon, I did it to all 56 crayons, so that the radiator, by the end of the winter,
was just dripping with all of this wax of many colors, and they were beautiful. And
I remember loving to do that. So when I wrote about the mother’s upset with the girl at
dinner time… I was often sent from the table for being, I don’t know, silly or not eating
or whatever. And I just made that connection between melting the crayons in my room, and
because I made Mags an artist, in her eyes she was perhaps creating something. And that
the mother would come in and see this wonderful creation and would mistake it for food. When
I got that idea, it was thrilling to me, that it was one of those miraculous sort of metaphors
that you suddenly pull out of nowhere, and I was just thrilled, and I knew, “I’ve got
it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it! I’ve got this scene. I’ve got the whole ending. And then
Mags could say, “You didn’t notice what I did, and you still don’t notice me.” I had
the whole thing sort of laid out in front of me.

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