The Next Narrative -” I paint your pain and feel it for you”
The process of painting a portrait of a being that can actually answer back has some novelty at first. She moves around him, looking at angles, shapes, how his body fits together. The absence of fur or hair or feathers is a little dis concerting until she gets her eyes in, learn to see form under skin.
He doesn’t actually speak much, there is a strange intensity to his gaze on her, almost as if the roles have been reversed, as if it is him painting her, his eyes dart between her eyes and her hands and sometimes he leans back, shift his weight and sighs with pleasure.
The painting stutters on, her hands hurt, her head hurts, she has trouble seeing straight and she is trying to not see the changes in him, trying not to see his back straighten, his hands unfurl, the lines etched on his face relax, slip away.
Somehow, whatever she has done with the pets, is much more marked in him, harder to ignore, because, deep down, she knows his interest is not in her, not in the art, not even in his own portrait, he has purchased not her skill with paint, but the miracle, the promise and delivery of new life, pain-free and rejuvenated.
When they finally part, he is upright, skin taut on his face, handshake firm, whist she, she is exhausted, hardly able to stand, hands shaking, lips moving constantly as she tries to remember everything she wants to say to him.
But once she is free, away from the canvas, away from him, it is another miracle
She stretches up, feels her back move freely, her shoulders unstiffen and she stands for a moment, enjoys the feeling of the sun against her strong young body and then she sits down on a bench and thinks very carefully and very deliberately about what has happened and what she needs to do next.
Her thinking surprises her, she was not aware of this steel at her core, did not know that she could be so business like, so pragmatic about this gift, so focussed on her own ambition, but she shrugs, maybe after all, she is no better than the concecptualist boys, always looking for the thing that will set them apart, make their names.
She walks home, towards her comfortable garden flat, mind already turning to that glass of wine, her own cats on her lap, the daily cigarette and the smoking ritual that goes along with it.
She knows what she should do, princesses, fairies, good angels have a clear career path in the stories. She should offer her gift up the greater good, relieve suffering, help the lame and poor, make happy endings,
“Bugger that” she says, almost aloud and before she can think about it too hard, she has dived into a newsagent and bought an extravagant 20 cigarettes and a new lighter and is walking down the street, smoking in public, even blowing a defiant and perfect smoke ring.
Later at home, she makes more plans, she will need an agent, a gallery, but with great discretion, the story always only half told, only half understood and she will choose the subjects and they will pay her a great deal of money, but more importantly, they will hang her paintings, her life-like accurate representations in every major gallery in the world.
She will change the course of art history, just her, alone.
People will learn to paint again and she will be the most famous artist in the world.
But, of course, you know all of this, well, the last bit , the bit about the saviour of the art world and all that , you must know, after all how many days have you stood in line waiting to see the collected works of the worlds’ greatest living artist and yes, I can see your clutching your ticket, after all its worth a huge prize, a life changing prize, you chance to have your portrait painted by the mistress, if god willing, her health holds out for long enough.