Sunday, October 18, 2009

Drawing a Blank

Drawing a blank; the immensity of the 24”X36” watercolor paper overwhelmed her today… brush poised she sat and waited for inspiration. What were the muses on vacation? Did they go south to soak up some rays instead of staying to encourage her brush? The paint dripped to the floor in slow motion… splat, splat, splat equaling the sound of the rain dripping from the eves. The grey and gloom seemed to permeate her thoughts; chilling her to the bone; and making movement impossible. How long had she sat like this before the white paper? She never kept a clock in her painting room or wore a watch. Time meant little to her but still she wondered. Thoughts traversed her mind but none stuck; none struck the nerve to send messages to her arm - to her hand to make the brush glide across the paper. The glare from the paper reflected off the windows, the water jars, her glasses. The white seemed to saturate everything around her, silence and whiteness, whiteness and silence. Time stood still. Her arm didn’t ache; it just hung in the air above the page.

The last drip descended to the floor to join the others flattened upon impact. Splattered against the white linoleum, the perfectly round epicenter of each dot was surrounded by an aurora of fine spatters. The past drips overlapped, the color lessened in intensity as they dried on the floor. Still she let her thoughts rush; she was in no hurry. She learned to wait patiently for her inspiration. Would it come? Did it matter? No phone to jangle and break the moment. The music of the rain on the roof was absorbed into the movement of her thoughts. She waited, poised, the brush dry; the paper blank. The process of creating put on hold; she closed her eyes while she stilled her breath even more; no longer counting to keep the rhythm of in and out in balance. Everything physical was ready: the paper, the brush, the easel at the correct angle, the painter’s chair the proper distance from the paper; the rinse jars and palette were within easy reach; her mind at peace with the constant bombardment of needless thought but still no direction of movement. No projected line on the paper to follow with quick sure movements.

Her husband rarely entered the studio if the door was closed. He deferred to his wife’s need to be closeted away while painting. He busied himself in the kitchen; his relaxation after his work day filled with hustle/bustle was to prepare their evening meal. The sound of his knife to cutting block matched the sound of the rain on the sky light. He didn’t notice the lack of sound or movement from the studio; the absence of lunch dishes set by the sink or lack of light beneath the door. Vivaldi filled his background as the rice cooker steamed a steady plume to the ceiling. The vegetables were all prepared to stir fry as the rice cooker flipped to warm. Still no acknowledgement of his presence from the studio, he was sure the smell of spices would seep into her inner sanctum drawing his wife out to eat. The wok oil crackled as vegetables hit the pan; within minutes the meal was completed. He was relaxed as he artfully arranged the food on the porcelain plates, chopsticks sat on their rests and sparkling water was slightly bubbling in their long stem water glasses.

He listened at her door; slowly he opened the door a crack; puzzled by the relative darkness of the room, he called her name in a whisper. Widening the gap in the door, he saw his wife engulfed in the glow from the lamp directed at a blank piece of paper. Her back was toward him but the light bounced off the page, reflected off the window turned mirror in the evening darkness. Frozen in time and space, on the floor at her feet her brush lay rigid and dry while she sat perfectly still. Panic rose in him. Calling her name softly, he eased himself into the studio. Quietly he approached his illuminated wife. Reaching out he touched her cheek with his finger tips; brushing along her chin, his receptors felt nothing but cold immobile mask. Looking into her face, he noted a glowing peacefulness, eyes wide open but without fear looked thru him to the page with a single brush stroke. Dry paint trailed into a rough heart shape. Before the brush had fallen, she had managed to create her last message to him.

Not disturbing a thing, he lifted a chair form the corner to sit in the quiet studio and admire the rough heart. Time to make calls later; he silently breathed in the love.


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