I looked at that phrase and then looked at him, and said... what's that supposed to mean? He cocked his head and looked at me and said 'knitting can be complex and dangerous'... Realizing I wasn't getting very far with him, I said... it can be anything that matches that theme, right? And he said sure... surprise me (or something to that effect).
As I was thinking about what to paint, I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to create an image of how exciting the world must seem to Jos, especially while he was knitting. At the time he was using a combination of blue and green yarn for the toessel he was working on, so these were the colors I decided to use in the painting.
After trying a few sketches, I finally sat down and decided to use the frames of Jos's glasses as the frames to show the 'danger' of knitting. I wanted to show how 'most of us' see the world (outside of the glasses) compared to how Jos might see the world. A blue rug to me and you would be a roaring river to Jos (or a roaring river on a toessel). The arm of a chair would be the edge of a jungle covered with thick grass, and crawling with snakes.
As I was painting, I thought that if the yarn became (or remained) snakes, then the dangerous theme might be little more visible, and knitting would indeed be complex. I made each brush stroke fairly broad and thick, so that the image would appear as if it was knitted.
I stood back and took a look at the first draft of the painting. I noticed the circles of yarn on the arm chair also doubled as a sort of abstract, self-reflection of Jos's face. Sort of how you can see your own eye on your side of an eye glass lenses when you're wearing it.
I thought the circular motion of the yarn was similar to how Jos's personality was so enthralling and attractive. Then I put a barely noticeable, but distinct image of a television with the WebTV Home Page in the top-middle of the picture. At the time, I thought WebTV was close to the center of Jos's life.
I brought the painting into work a few days later. I brought Jos over to my cube and had him take a look at the painting. He sort of stared at it, taking it in, and I started to explain it a little. But almost immediately he said 'I love it, is this for me? You mean I can have this?' I said sure, it's all yours, but you have to frame it. Then he proceeded to show it off to his friends down the hall.
Jos was the main reason I started my web site at www.flatfishfactory.com.
Silly putty. The main memory that keeps popping into my head whenever I think of Jos has to do with silly putty. A couple of guys at WebTV bought a bunch of silly putty from DuPont. It's sort of a stress-relief toy. They bought 100 pounds of the stuff and distributed it a couple years ago. As more and more WebTV boxes were made, we eventually put the silly putty over the infrared light on the WebTV box to block the infrared signals from the remotes or keyboards. This lets us use more than one WebTV box at a time.
Someone gave Jos a glob of silly putty. Since he sat next to me, I used to hear him playing with the silly putty as he talked to people... all day long. I could hear it pop as he squished and pulled it apart in his hands. One day I was standing by his cube and noticed the silly putty was kind of gray instead of its normal pink color. As he was talking and stretching the silly putty, it seemed a little goopier than usual. I think Paul was standing nearby and I asked him... why was Jos's silly putty so gray and goopy? Paul said... oh, its probably because he rolls it on his face all the time.
Although I never saw Jos put the silly putty on his face, I can imagine what it looked like when he did. I eventually told Beth this story wondering if she would be as grossed out as I was. A few days later, Beth took the gray silly putty out of his cube and told him she would only give him a new lump if he promised not to put it on his face. I have no idea what Jos did with silly putty after that... But sometimes when I think of him, I think of him rolling that silly putty on his face...
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