Another inspiration monday! I was not expecting to have one for today.
The artist shoved over a tray of paint in a fit of anger watching as it spattered in pieces across his ruined canvas. The canvas that held her picture. Stupid art. Why should he care about it? He’d given it his life, and in return? He lived like a beggar in a dingy one bedroom apartment. He couldn’t even afford the medicine it took to save the only thing he’d ever cared about. She was dead and he would never paint again.
Letting out a growl of frustration he grabbed the painting and threw it in the street. Shortly afterwards his paints, brushes, charcoal, sketchbooks and any other tools he owned followed it into the mud. Moments later a girl drove by, then stopped her buggy abruptly. She glanced at his things, scattered across the road, and hurried to his door, rapping on it quietly. When no response followed she pounded it a little harder. Finally the artist answered the door, making her jump backwards a little at the sight of his stringy hair and the grime and paint that covered him. His black clothes were barely recognizable underneath the layers of oil paint he’d slowly collected. A wild and terrifying look glinted in his eye.
The girl swallowed a few times, working up the courage to speak. “Ma–may I have your painting? I mean, can I buy it?”
The artist looked at her with what could only be classified as a somewhat shocked expression. He quickly masked it in gruff anger. “Why would you want that stupid thing? Take it for all I care. I’m done with this.”
The girl was too busy turning to pick the canvas up to be hurt when the door slammed in her face. She carefully picked up the canvas, which was bigger than she, and attempted to load it onto her buggy. After several tries she succeeded in getting it onto her buggy–albeit in a very awkward and cumbersome position–and tied it down tightly. The rest of the discarded supplies, she loaded into any untaken place on the small vehicle, until it was so full she couldn’t get on it herself. Finally she decided to walk beside the horse instead, guiding it through the mud on her way home despite the fact that her baby pink skirt was quickly developing a six inch high coat of dirt on its hem.
About an hour of walking and three miles later the girl led her horse into a livery, and ran through the door, “Papa! Papa come see!”
“What is it Isa?” A large man, wearing the practical but dirty clothes of a farrier, asked her.
“Papa you have to see this!” She said quickly, running right back out to the stable.
He followed her with an amused sparkle in his gentle brown eyes. A moment later he was observing a muddy canvas with paint spattered over most of the original picture, trying to see what Isa was seeing.
“Papa isn’t it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?” She asked him happily.
He nodded slowly, then stopped, “What is it exactly?”
“It’s a painting of course!”
“Oh, of course a painting, yes.” He stroked his thick beard, watching his daughter’s dark curls bob up and down as she dug through the buggy showing him the artist’s supplies.
She stopped suddenly and looked into her father’s eyes, “I can keep it can’t I, Papa? I can fix what happened to it, I know I can.”
Jeremiah looked into his daughter’s eyes, seeing his wife again for a moment, he’d never been able to deny those eyes. “Fine. But you can’t work on it when you have chores.”
Isa ran over and kissed her father’s cheek, “Thank-you Papa, thank-you!”
“You’re welcome dear. Now go wash that new skirt before you ruin it forever.”
She ran off to obey, leaving him shaking his head hoping she wasn’t wrong and that she could indeed fix the damage to whatever lay under the paints and mud on that canvas.
Isa was not a patient girl, she had the tendency to give up on a project quickly, if she didn’t begin to see the results immediately. Jeremiah had been sure that she would be tired of her project after a day or two, but something was different about this. Perhaps it was the way she was seeking a way to express what she felt after her mother’s death, or perhaps she was trying to keep busy so she would forget about it.
Whatever the reason was, Isa kept working on the painting, carefully restoring the damage until one day the muck was gone and she was looking at a beautiful painting, despite it’s faults. True, there was still paint splatters on several areas of it. However somehow they made the painting seem even more sadly gorgeous. The woman it pictured wore a nightgown and was pale, propped up on several pillows, and looking out the window into the street where Isa had first found the painting. Her eyes held such love for the people and places she observed outside, but her face was gaunt, sickly and yellow. Isa felt sure that the woman was the reason the artist had thrown the painting in the street, however she kept that opinion to herself and when she had finished restoring the painting she once again loaded it into her buggy, this time going to the museum in Paris. It was a longer drive, she would have to spend the night in Paris before she drove back, but she felt it was worth it, considering the month and a half she’s spent working on it.
The director of the museum didn’t hesitate a second once he saw the painting, making her an offer of 10, 000 francs before she could quote her own price–which would have been considerably lower. Isa was overjoyed and sent word to her father that she was going to stay a few days in Paris so she would be there the day they put it on display and could he join her? After that it was only a matter of renting an apartment for the week she would stay and buying a dress to wear to the display.
The day arrived and Isa showed up alone–her father was still on his way–not telling anyone that she was the girl that had restored the painting. As the bustling crowd swarmed to see the painting she stood toward the back, watching with pride and joy.
“You know the girl that sold this to the museum was only about your age?” Isa turned as an old man’s gentle voice spoke next to her.
“What? Oh! Yes, monsieur I had heard that.” She said, mentally amused at the irony in the situation.
“Such a young woman, to see the beauty in something that everyone else would have thought ruined.”
Isa smiled, yes, she had seen the beauty beneath the mud somehow, and now everyone else would see the beauty in it too.