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#FridayFlash: The Painting

November 5, 2009

Here’s my offering for #fridayflash, something I had a blast doing last week. Good luck to all my fellow writers participating in NaNoWriMo! I hope to join you next year, once I’m done dissertating! 

The first time she’d seen one of his paintings, she’d reached to touch the dried brushstrokes–even though she knew she shouldn’t. He’d seen her hesitation and said, “Don’t worry. I’m glad it invited you in.” Gave her a grin.

Bottles. Different shapes, sizes, colors.  That’s what Allan painted. He was famous for capturing their exquisite transparency, filled with light—and for accomplishing this with incredibly thick layers of paint. 

Now she sat as his model. He’d approached her about being one the first time he met her at a party.  She blew him off. She’d been asked one too many times by men to “model” for them.  Six months later she saw him at a coffee shop. He’d looked up and smiled. For some reason, she believed that smile. Sat down with him. They’d been inseparable for a year. But she’d not modeled until now.

“You don’t have to sit so still,” he laughed.  “It’s not the usual portrait, you know.” She knew. Opened her half-read Middlemarch. Took breaks from reading by watching him work.

Blue. He decided she was blue. “Why blue?” she asked. “I don’t know—that’s just what you are today.  It’s a beautiful blue, too. Come see.”  It was beautiful—a delicate but radiant cerulean blue. She was quiet.

“Don’t you like it?”

It’s not that she didn’t like it. She did, in a way she couldn’t explain. But she also felt uneasy. “You know, I took a New Testament class in undergrad.” His brow furrowed as he began painting again. 

“What’d you think?” 

She chortled. “Not much. But I’ve always remembered the professor saying that we shouldn’t read the gospels as history books. They don’t capture reality in facts like a point and shoot camera.”

He looked up.

“They’re more like paintings. And paintings can be truer to their subject than photographs.” She paused. “Is that why you paint?”

He sighed. Put down his brush. “Sometimes I don’t know why I paint.”  

She blushed. “I’m sorry. It’s just so weird for someone to see me as a bottle. I mean, a beautiful bottle—but a bottle. It’s an object, a thing. I was trying to understand…” her voice trailed off.

“It’s okay. You aren’t the first person to wonder.” He looked at her silently for a moment. “You know, the first time I saw you it was as if you were bathed in white golden light. That’s why I asked to paint you.”

“Ha! I thought you were hitting on me.”

“That too.” He winked. “I think I paint the light, Amanda. That’s as close as I’ve come to understanding what I do.”

She sat for him for two weeks. A month later he asked her to come back so he could get the final touches just right. She came and continued writing a novel she’d begun in her first sessions.

At the end of what she wanted to write for the day, she put down her pen and watched. He was completely absorbed in his work.  He glanced up, saw her, and smiled. “I think it’s time for a break.” He stretched.

“Allan—"

“Yeah?”

“Why did you choose to paint bottles? I mean, you did “real” portraits in art school. Why not show the light in those?”

“Maybe because even if I did, people wouldn’t be able to see it. The image is too familiar.” He wiped his hands off on a rag. “I don’t really know, though. I started painting bottles and they felt right. But, Amanda–” He held up the canvas and turned it around so she could see it. “This is not a bottle.” She’d never seen a bottle so enchanting. It perfectly captured and transmitted the light coming in from the window behind.

 She laughed. “No, it’s me!”

 With mock seriousness, he said, “This is not Amanda.”

 “I know,” she said softly. “It’s love.”

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    November 6, 2009 5:26 am

    The painting
    I really enjoyed that – I love the character, Amanda you created. MichelleDEvans

    • November 6, 2009 6:30 pm

      Re: The painting
      Thank you! I was wondering if–in this short piece–they would come off as believable or not–or resonate with anyone. πŸ™‚

  2. Anonymous permalink
    November 6, 2009 8:33 am

    aww
    The bottles are very vivid, and I like the concept of them too

    • November 6, 2009 6:30 pm

      Re: aww
      Thanks! I have no idea how I came up with bottles, but I think it fits in many ways. πŸ™‚

  3. Anonymous permalink
    November 6, 2009 12:08 pm

    Love this…
    All the metaphor, the words themselves like light. I understand the need to paint that which is invisible but which colors everything.
    This could be a bigger piece – yes? After the dissertation ;^).
    Fabulous. Left with me pressure around my heart. Peace, Linda

    • November 6, 2009 6:33 pm

      Re: Love this…
      I had the sense this piece wasn’t finished–so maybe! Thank you so much for your comments. I wanted the metaphors to be noticed, but not over-the-top. Sometimes I’m worried that I make EVERYTHING metaphorical. πŸ™‚

  4. Anonymous permalink
    November 6, 2009 2:00 pm

    Great story
    Beautifully written!
    Painting the light. He’s a true artist…
    Kudos!
    ~ Marisa Birns

    • November 6, 2009 6:35 pm

      Re: Great story
      Thank you!! I agree. True artists paint/write/sculpt/dance/sing/play etc. the light. In many forms (sometimes undercover)–but the light. πŸ™‚

  5. Anonymous permalink
    November 6, 2009 2:46 pm

    great dialogue
    The interaction between these two was terrific, sounded very true to life. Well done!
    Tony

    • November 6, 2009 6:37 pm

      Re: great dialogue
      Thanks! Dialogue is something I’m still working on (and probably always will ;). I’m glad it sounded “true.” I remember thinking, as I was writing: “Will anyone believe that people talk like this?”

  6. Anonymous permalink
    November 6, 2009 7:42 pm

    Very Nice
    I found myself bemused, smiling slightly the whole way through. I really enjoyed the characters, their interactions, the imagery – everything. And I was really happy with the ending. Love.
    Bottles. Ah the mind of an artist. Who can figure that out?
    Good luck on your dissertation.
    ~jon

  7. Anonymous permalink
    November 7, 2009 8:10 pm

    Love it!
    You have such great imagination, I just loved this!

    • November 8, 2009 2:05 am

      Re: Love it!
      Thanks! I have no idea how it works sometimes, but I take what comes. πŸ™‚

  8. Anonymous permalink
    November 7, 2009 9:46 pm

    The Painting
    Hi Sweetie,
    This us such a great story. Kind of like even the first chapter with more to follow.
    Love ya,
    Mom

  9. Anonymous permalink
    November 8, 2009 2:32 am

    The Painting
    Donna and I read this story last night. What we really like is the tying together of art and writing. A gallery tour will often get our creative juices flowing. Artists have a long history of taking risks and chances. I’m going to add your site to my blog roll, if that is okay. Regards, Alex Carrick (http://www.alexcarrick.com).

    • November 9, 2009 4:58 pm

      Re: The Painting
      I’m the same way–I get so inspired by being around art–actually, almost any art form. There was a trip I took to NYC and I think I got more writing done there in one weekend that any before b/c I was in the galleries and museums so much of the time. I just now linked you and Donna together, reading this. Why it didn’t occur to me before I don’t know. Thank you both for reading and thanks for the comments. As for your blogroll–I feel honored. Thank you very much.

  10. Anonymous permalink
    November 9, 2009 8:06 pm

    I like the dialogue, real and tells the story.

    • November 10, 2009 11:58 pm

      Thank you!! I do like that the dialogue is so prevalent (and seems to have worked ;).

  11. Anonymous permalink
    November 13, 2009 3:18 pm

    Got a big kick out of this story! I liked your characters, and their language.
    Tabatha

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