Monday, June 25, 2012


She walks in. The lights are shining, the music playing. She has been awaiting this moment all day. She inhales, exhales. The music washes over her. It is time to begin. She lifts her arms and walks into the light. She reaches out and touches. Brushes, tubes of paint. A pencil. A blob of still-wet paint on the palette. It is soft and wet on her finger. She wipes it off. Picks up a tube of paint. Squeezes. Paint slowly emerges and forms a mound on the palette. One more color...The mixing knife is in her hand. She picks up some of the first color and mixes it into the larger mound of the other color. Slowly, methodically. More colors are squeezed out, blended together. It is only now that she looks at the canvas in front of her. Not knowing exactly what mark will push the painting further, she picks up a brush. Dipping it into the glass jar, she then gently rubs it in the closest color already mixed. She draws breath and she touches the wet brush to the canvas. The canvas gives, slightly, to the touch. The brush is pulled across the surface, laying down a band of wet paint. More paint is loaded onto the brush. Another mark is made. It has begun.

The music plays. The trees outside sway in the warm summer wind. Time leaves the room. But now the artist is unaware of these things. Now the only thing is the movement of the arm, the feel of the brush, the knife, the wet paint. Paint is applied. It is removed. A sigh. More paint is applied. Another color. Edges are concealed. Others are revealed. The painting has begun to dictate terms. She is at the mercy of the painting. It knows where it wants to go and she must follow. Sometimes, she decides she is in charge. She knows where to go. But she is wrong. The painting must lead. She must follow. That is when everything comes together. Time passes, the light changes. She paints. The mounds of color disappear and new ones are created. The rinse jar becomes muddy with color. She holds three brushes in one hand, one plus a rag in the other. The painting talks. She listens. She begins to feel an ache. A fuzzy dog appears in the doorway. She does not hear the dog. The dog comes in and lays down near her feet. Touches her leg with a black, wet nose. She ignores the touch. The dog inches closer, whines. She crossly tells him to wait. She is painting. The dog gives up and moves away. Lays down in the corner and waits. Now time has crept back in. She knows the light is nearly gone. She knows she must feed the dog and eat. One more mark. Another. She steps back, brush in hand. It is time. Finished or not, she must walk away. The painting must wait. One more mark. She sets the brush down. One more look at the painting. She leaves the room.

The dog is fed. Dinner is on the stove. She walks back in to the room with the painting. Picks up a brush. Loses herself. A timer rings. Once again, she must leave. She leaves. She eats. She walks the dog. Entering the now dark house, the irresistible urge pulls her once more toward the paint, toward the canvas. She picks up her brush. She is tired. She loses herself again, once more in the paint, in the motion of her arm and body as marks are made, removed, made again. the brush becomes inadequate. A knife is chosen. Paint is loaded onto the knife and then frosted onto the surface of the canvas. Dragged. Blended. More marks. More paint. She feels her body resisting and knows the end of the day is near. Time breathes over her shoulder. She steps back. The dog sleeps near her feet. She looks at the painting. She knows she must stop. And still, it beckons. One more mark. Another. A pencil line. More paint. It is time to stop, but oh! Wait! One more mark. And then here. Rub there. Blend. Now stop. Put the brush down. Wash it. Wash another. One more mark is made with the brush. It is cleaned again. She sets it down, reluctantly. She walks out. Toothpaste on another brush. Brushing fast. Walking back toward the pulling, calling canvas. Looking. Thinking. Leaving the room again. Changing clothes. Turning off lights. Turning off music. ONE LAST LOOK. And we must part for the night.

She would sleep with it, if she could.


ArtPropelled said...

Wonderful! I was hanging on every word... relating to the creative process. Glorious photographs too.

pRiyA said...

I was going to write almost exactly what Robyn did but since she got ahead of me, I second her comment:)

Barbara H said...

Ah, the drama, the tenderness...Nice job! I hope that the romance had a happy ending.

Patty said...

Agh!! I was there in the room with you!! What a wonderful version of the creative process. Beautifully written.
I want to know, how did you feel the next morning?

Karine Swenson said...

Thanks everyone - I am glad you enjoyed it.

The next morning, Patty, I wake up and my first thought is the painting. I can't wait to see it in the light. To see if I like it or not. There is nothing more exciting than waking up to a new painting on the easel!

desert argonauta said...

Wow! This is powerful!! Wonderful in the moment writing --and great photos to go with it.