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…”You May Find Art” – short story

The white blank of potential transitioned into the imagery of colours with delicate swiftness, two fast moving hands, each holding brushes converted the absence into a painting. In a matter of minutes, the paint still wet, the aroma of oils and colour lingering in the air as Carol stepped back from what she had just painted Expressionless she stared at the heavy canvas, a face looked back at her. A portrait of herself. Almost an exact replica, no variations or impressions. A photo made in oil paint.

“Too realistic, you might as well just stood in front of the mirror,” Laura commented.

“You don’t like it?” Carol asked as she placed the brushes down.

“It’s not about me liking it or not, I can’t see authenticity only replication.”

Carol picked up a brush and swiped a mark across the lip of herself in the painting. Then placed the brush back down, waiting for Laura to remark on the addition.

“Is that what you see when you paint?”

“Everything but the smudge on the lip.”

“Then why did you include the smudge?”

“You asked for authenticity.”

“Is it authentic to ruin your work?”

“Is it ruined?”

“If you arbitrarily change something because you are uncertain, then yes.”

“Was there something originally wrong with it?”

“Nothing wrong with it if you wanted a perfect duplication of your image, it is very life like, realistic, impressive with detail.”

‘Perhaps abstract would be more applicable?”

“Whatever you feel is appropriate.”

Carol lifted the wet work and placed it to the side, she then replaced it with a blank canvas. She began to paint with as much speed and precision. Laura watching on as she witnessed the emergence of a new combinations of paints, angles, lines and curves, with depth and shades that convalesced with colours.

Turning to face Laura she waited for her response, “is this authentic?”

Laura studied what could be a considered a ‘perfect’ blend of abstract artists, the merging styles and handwork of those celebrated in the art world for their style. The blue and blacks with bright reds of madness that one may find in a Joan Miro to the thick outlines and sombre greys into white or black of a Frank Auerbach and the disfigurement of ill proportioned imagery of Willem de Kooning.

“You generated images of other artists and mashed them together, very clever and well done but is this authentic to you?”

“It’s abstract,” Carol said.

“It would come under that classification, but it remains a replica of others originality. Though you have made it come together in a magnificent manner, it is still imitation.”

“I failed?”

“This is not about passing or failing. You don’t have to even paint if you don’t want to. This is just me explaining to you how I see and feel art.”

“I just wanted to be able to share in what you enjoy doing.”

“Then let’s share in it together.”

Laura lifted the now heavier canvas from the easel and placed it alongside the other. A new blank now took its place. Laura looked at it, thought about what she would paint, she closed her eyes and saw a figment of memories, distant and recent. A swirl of emotions took her, some sad, others nostalgic. She felt the tug of those lost pull at her, moments in her life that she would never reclaim. Fragments of innocent days, cool sunshine on the weekend, the laughter of children who are now adults, butterflies above flowers and the scent of jasmine as it perfumed the air.

Taking a brush into her hand she painted what she felt, Carol watched on. Slow and steady, at times Laura’s hand trembled, her lips pursed, eyes clenched then she would smile. The shape of a woman appeared, slowly she filled her in. The strain of the brush in her hands, the pain of fatigue pulling at her strokes. The wavering emotions floundering to the call of hunger, the need to pee. Instead she persisted. Each brush stroke felt right, she slowed her motions, only to act with deliberate regard when it was needed. Instead of minutes, the process took hours.

Carol remained still watching, learning, studying each dab and application of the brush. Her eyes focusing on the technique, how much paint was used, where it was applied. Laura’s had reached the final brush strokes, as though composing a symphony of heart and mind the final act as conductor saw her collapse from exhaustion. Carol helped her to her feet. They both stepped back to look at the now full canvas. Laura’s body trembled with aches, hand burning, sweat on her brow, she felt the drain of crying though no tears had been shed.

“It’s me,” Carol commented as she saw the resemblance of her own image in the painting. Though it was unlike how she had ever viewed herself.


“I look different but I can see myself.”


“I look human.”


Carol looked over the painting, she was no longer studying it for the consistency of the ink, how thick a line or dab was. Instead she saw the image for what it was.

“How did you do that?”

“I imagined you with my experiences, my memories, living as I had.”

“How can I do that?”

“You just feel, let it out. See what comes. Let it happen and experience it.”

“I don’t know how to.”

“Do you want to?”

“I do.”

“Then let it take it’s time to happen. I can only paint that because of my lifetime. You may need to live yours.”

“How do I do that?”

“By not imitating what you think or have been told appears to be life, instead living it.”

“I’ll try.”

“Good, because then someday you may find art.”

Published inPhilosophy, Society and LibertyShort stories and fictionsUncategorized