So She Painted…
a story of an artists perseverance.
By Laura Merchant
Taking another drink of her coffee, a young woman rubbed her eyes and grimaced. The bitter tang lingered on her tongue, but she needed the caffeine to get through the night. It was nearing 2 a.m., and with oil paint on her hands and face, the young woman fought against sleep. This painting had to be finished the following day. She continued with her fatigued strokes. Dipping her brush in one of her favorite colors, crimson, she lightly touched her canvas. The wet paint spread easily across the surface, blending and creating pleasing shapes. As she painted, her mind wandered to an earlier day, not long before.
A bright, clear sky provided ambient light as she sat at her table, laboring over her latest work of art. She could hear laughter coming through her window, as people enjoyed the spring weather. Longing to join them, the young artist sighed. She knew she had work to do, and no time for play. Leaning over her project, she labored to get it right. Hour after hour she worked. The watercolors were not cooperating, soaking into the paper before the paint could spread. She couldn’t get the figures to look right even when the paint cooperated. Over and over again she corrected her work. She threw her paintbrush to the floor in frustration. After having spent so much time on this painting, she didn’t have time to start over, and she would not give up. Picking up her brush again, she continued to struggle with her work.
The sound of crickets chirping filled the night. After reflecting awhile, the young woman got up to take a break. She paced the room, sipping from her mug. She looked at her painting. There was much work left to do but she was pleased with her progress. Sitting back down and taking a deep breath, she plunged her brush back into her palette. Brown paint covered the bristles as she continued to paint. The room seemed to dissolve around her, as a memory once again overtook her thoughts. It began to play across her mind like an old film.
Hunched over a potter’s wheel, her hands embraced a spinning lump of clay. As her hands closed in around the lump, it centered on the wheel. Using her fingers, she began to pull it upward, creating a vase form. She kept pulling and kept pulling until it was tall and slender. The vessel had in fact gotten so tall that she used the entire length of her arm to reach inside to shape its base. The clay was soft and easily altered with every move of the potter’s hands. Standing over her spinning vase form, she continued to manipulate the clay, trying to give it the most interesting shape. Suddenly, her foot slipped and she stepped hard on the pedal. The wheel spun to its fastest speed and all at once, the beautiful form before her exploded outward. Covered in clay, she looked around. What was once her tall, slender vessel was now all over the floor and walls; her wheel stood empty. Downcast, the potter sat down and began to form the clay again.
The time was nearing 4 a.m. and the young woman was once again fighting fatigue. She knew she must continue so she took another sip of coffee and kept working. Deciding to play some music, she turned on the radio. When she sat back down she once again evaluated her progress. Not yet satisfied, she picked up her brush. As the music played, she let her mind wander. With every graceful move of her arm, she painted the figures on her canvas. It was like a dance. Slowly, as though in a vision, the figures seemed to move. They flowed right off the canvas and swirled around the room, twirling and leaping. The figures transformed into her beloved friends whom she missed. The late nights working on her art had made it seem as though she barely knew them anymore. As ghost-like images of her friends danced about the room, they didn’t seem to know she was there. Their laughter warmed her heart and she called out to them, but they did not hear. The images walked away, laughing, never looking back. They left the painter alone with her work. After a moment, she looked again at her painting. She knew she had to press on. There was a driving force in her that she could not forget. A creative passion that nothing on earth could extinguish. So she painted…
Inspired anew by those thoughts, she resolved to finish her work. Determinedly, she dipped her brush in the colors and vigorously added detail. In her excitement, she pressed too hard and the brush cracked in her fingers. It was an old and brittle brush, but in her current, tired state, it was disappointment. This incident jogged her memory back to only a few weeks prior. She had been broken, frustrated and disappointed. At that time, the young artist had been overcome with a sense of failure. All night she would stay up to complete her art—working and striving for perfection in all that she did. Still, they weren’t good enough. She felt that she couldn’t go on as an artist. She wondered what good she was, and whether she would ever fulfill her potential.
Presently, overwhelmed by these emotions, she dimly remembered encouragement of a friend—telling her to keep striving, keep persevering. She had been created for a purpose and that was what drove her. What else could she do but go on? So she painted…
The sun was now rising. The woman lifted the shade and gazed out the window in fascination. Colors of the sunrise poured into the room. She turned to gaze again at her painting and was filled with a sense of overcoming. The work was finished. Every thing that she had considered an imperfection the night before had been transformed into integral parts of the design. Without them, the painting would not be as beautiful. The artist sighed and smiled. An awareness of accomplishment consumed her thoughts. After some rest, she will paint and grow again.