The Artist

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She squeezed the cadmium in a bright yellow streak across the palette.

She had painted in every medium, every material possible, but she still loved the richness of oils – that wonderful buttery smear of vivid colour, the smell of the linseed, the texture of the paint as it glided across the canvas.

All of it seemed more real to her than anything else. A life of its own, raw, visceral.

She dipped the sable brush in her own concoction of white spirit and linseed, to thin the paint whilst keeping the gloss. Too much white spirit would dull the verdant hues, too little would make them too sticky, too slick.

Her movements were erratic, not the usual smooth motions of wandering mind and sparkling imagination. She’d often complete a commission in a daze, almost unaware of where she was or what she was doing. Her conscious self, the side of her that was always acutely cautious, would be suppressed, allowing her hands to take over, her fingers to find the form she wanted.

That was where the magic lay…not in the end result, but in its creation.

Today was different.

Today, she was painting for her life.

The music swelled to a crescendo, pushing her adrenaline forward, hurrying her hand. The mottled texture of the canvas swirled before her eyes, a flamenco dance of colours.

Titanium white, a flash of cerulean, a dab of burnt umber and then the thinning haze of vermillion, red as flesh, peering out at her, reminding her of her slowing heart, the constrictions of her arteries, the pulsating electricity through her veins, which told her she was running out of time.

She worked fast now, pounding the canvas until the wooden stretcher creaked beneath the pressure.

The outside noises had faded away. No traffic, no loud Saturday night voices and wailing sirens. It was silent everywhere but inside her head.

Mixing now, hurried new hues emerging from the clogged up mess. Phaltho blue enriching the green she had created, a hint of lemon, a sparkle of ultra-marine.

Throat dry now. Hands shaking, fingers slipping on the brush shaft.

She HAD to finish this.

Shadows clouded her vision. The music soared as eyes emerged from the canvas, eyes she knew so well, eyes staring into her soul, accusing her, condemning her, gloating at her demise.

“I won’t give in, I won’t!” she muttered feverishly.

Mars black, thick and glossy, impenetrable, unfathomable…she was losing the fight.

“Why did you leave me?”

Amber liquid pooled in the crevices, little streaks finding a route through the strokes, dripping in splashes at her feet.

She was always fighting gravity, as most women do. Always fighting, yes, her whole life she had been fighting.

Through the gloom, the full image stared back at her.

“So, you finally painted me? Finally… It only took you fifty years,” it sneered.

“I…I couldn’t do it before. I couldn’t see you,” she stuttered.

The painting smiled at her. “Are you pleased with yourself?”

“No…no…I, just had to see you. I had to say sorry.”

“But it’s too late for that now, isn’t it?”

She dropped to her knees. Her chest compressing in on itself, pain shooting through her shoulder, her arm, down her right side. She knew what this was.

“I need you to…forgive me.” She panted, fighting to breathe, her jeans soaking up the puddles of paint on the floor, seeping slowly through the fibres to her bruised knees beneath.

PLEASE!

The painting watched as she slumped forward, struggling to keep conscious, fighting as she had done her whole existence, fighting to try and hold onto something…love.

“Please…” her voice was raspy, desperate, forcing itself through closing valves, through density of flesh, through spasms of life.

The painting stared down at her as the music floundered.

Thump, thump, thump…

“You don’t deserve forgiveness,” it whispered to her coolly. “You know what you deserve.”

Thump, thump…

“Pleaseeee!”

“You let her die, didn’t you? What did you do to save her?”

“I tried…I…”

The painting took pity on the thing before it, crumpled like an old newspaper, suddenly a child itself, curling up as an infant, as her infant had been curled up when she found it, smashed by the roadside, barely recognisable. Her baby, her life, gone, snuffed out in a moment of stupidity and violence.

It had been her fault, she was late. She should have been there as she had promised. Instead her daughter had taken a ride with a friend, a drunken friend. What was left behind didn’t even resemble a car anymore.

It had been her fault.

“Pleaseeee…” she drooled, words slurred, barely audible.

The painting sighed, better to quicken her misery than give her hope. “No.”

Thump…….thump…………

Thump.

*

*

Sophie E Tallis © 2013

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Inspired? Hell, yes!

Well after receiving the Sunshine Blogger Award from the lovely Kay Kauffman http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/ I’m utterly thrilled and humbled to be nominated for another award! The very talented and dragon friendly, Lindsey J Parsons  http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/, has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Wow, wow and wow! I’m so touched!

A huge thank you to Lindsey J Parsons. Lindsey is a fellow fantasy writer, lover of dragons, breather of fire and inspiring blogger herself. Please check out her wonderful site: http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/ and be inspired yourself! Highly recommended!

The Rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

2. Share seven things about yourself.

3. Nominate other bloggers you think deserve the award, and post on their blog to let them know they’ve been nominated.

*****

Right, ummm…seven things about me, eh? Here goes!

Seven Things:

1.      I have nine lives, as in a cat with nine lives, not previous reincarnated versions of myself…scary thought! I have currently used at least 3 of them as I have nearly died 3 times! I drowned and was brought back to life, was almost decapitated (a real close shave!) and was involved in a motorway pile up which wrecked my car and should have killed me, but left me with only scratches. I’d love to think I’m a superhero aka ‘Unbreakable’, but sadly no. That’s not counting all my mishaps as an adventurous Huckleberry Finn type tomboy, like falling twenty feet out of a tree while trying to build myself a tree house with some rusty nails and scrap pieces of wood I’d found!

I figure I’m doing alright as I still have 6 lives left! 😀

2.     I used to play the piano and reached Stage 4 of my examinations before quitting, something I still regret to this day. I had absolutely no natural ability for it, it was hard slog all the way, but I did enjoy it and my elderly music teacher, Miss Allen was a delight. Although I can’t read music anymore, I still remember and play one piece by heart, called ‘Breakers’ (C major so it’s easy!), which reminds me of the ocean and breaking waves…very soporific! One day I will return to my piano playing days, though I doubt I will ever find a gentler soul than Miss Allen to teach me.

3.     I love art and thankfully, unlike my music, I do have natural talent for it. Before I could walk I was drawing and painting with amazing precision for a two and three year old. At four I was drawing complex designs from art books and the decorative china we had around the house, including a very ornate Japanese cheese dish with birds all over it…don’t know why I remember that! As a young child at school I used draw portraits of people, or anything they liked, for pennies, not sure if I was being a little entrepreneur or a kindergarten con-man!

The first time I went to London and saw Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Madonna of the Rocks’ and Caravaggio’s ‘Supper at Emmaus’, at the National Gallery, I cried. It was so moving and inspirational to me. THAT was how I wanted to draw and paint!

I got a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, with a specialism in drawing, painting, sculptural ceramics and photography (studio & landscape), which I love! Dark rooms are wonderfully magical places!

Anyway, I’ve been a particular fan of Caravaggio’s work my whole life, and though I can’t paint like him, it doesn’t stop me trying! 😛

4.     I once kissed Michael Foot on the cheek! For those of you who are too young to remember or for my overseas friends, Michael Foot was this archaic looking gentleman with a wild scruffy shock of white hair, who was the leader of the Labour Party back in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. Being a lefty myself, I’ll always believe in helping those less fortunate than myself, but I must say, having a photograph of me kissing this old chap – wasn’t my best move! Ewwwwww!

5.     I do like my food, especially Italian, which is clearly visible on my hips! I adore Marmite – there, I’ve said it. Love it, love it, love it! When I’m on my own, I always prefer to have my dessert first then my savoury. That way, you get the sweet stuff out of the way and then you can fully appreciate and savour your main course! 😀

Alcohol and me don’t mix though. Something about the fermentation process, but so much as a sip of wine or beer and I want to throw up. Of course, it could be that I just have immature taste buds like the rest of me!

6.     I do have some strange quirks I admit. I am incredibly bendy, though you’d never guess it to look at me. Now, although I can no longer do the splits or get my feet behind my head, I can hoist them up to my shoulders and as all the children I have ever taught in my classes can attest, I do an amazing above the door high kick! That’s right…I’m a high kicking teacher! Damn, if only that was a usable skill in life. 😛

7.      Writing will always be my first love and passion. As a kid I was writing stories before I could really do anything else. Novel ideas, poetry, short stories and ideas for world building – some of it in incredible detail. I literally have bags and bags, reams and reams of character bios, story plots, background material for worlds, sketches of planets, ships, dwellings, really mostly rubbish, but it has always just been a part of who I am. The stories that always inspired me the most and fuelled my desire to be a writer, were always fantasy and science-fiction. When I wasn’t playing air guitar or climbing trees, I was buried in some sci-fi or fantasy book. If you cannot claw your way out of your reality, you can grow wings and soar instead!

Now, down to my nominees. There are many fabulous bloggers out there, but these are the ones I am most inspired by.

In no order at all, because they are all equally fabulous for different reasons…

Tricia Drammeh  http://theclaimingwords.com/

Ryan Holmes (Griffin’s Quill)  http://griffinsquill.com/

Morgen Bailey  http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/

Rose Wall http://rosewall.weebly.com/

Hazel Butler http://aadenianink.com/

The Alliance of Worldbuilders http://theallianceofworldbuilders.weebly.com/

Mandy Ward (WelcomeTo Wherever)  http://welcometowherever.wordpress.com/

Ashen Venema  http://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/

Lesley Carter (Bucket List Publications)  http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/

Again, I would love to nominate Kate Jack http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/,  Will MacMillan Jones http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com/ , Kay Kauffman http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/ and of course Lindsey Parsons herself http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/, but Lindsey has already, quite rightfully, nominated their wonderful blogs, so I won’t repeat. But please do check them out folks, inspiring every single one of them!

…in yourself and you can achieve anything! 😀 xx