The Artist

“You artists are all the same. No one’s going to buy that weird stuff.” She’s a woman, elegant and expensively dressed, shortish, even shorter hair, handsome, but with the overall impression of a brick with lipstick.

She points. “Those are supposed to be stars? What’s with all the swirly stuff? Call that realistic because I don’t.” She turns her gaze on me. “If you want people to buy paintings, you’ll have to do better. Your tree is all wonky and far too big for a start.”

“But,” I reply, “It’s about mood, emotion, dreams…”

“Don’t give me that. That building there. I’ve never seen anything like it. Where did you come up with that? Everyone likes pictures of houses. Do a proper one.”

“It’s the church beside the museum.”

“It’s wonky too.” She points again. “Everything’s blue, and lord knows what all those blobs are. Your hills look like waves: it’s enough to make you seasick. Look, this is a complete disaster. You’ve got the sun and the moon all mixed up. For goodness’ sake, what is that thing supposed to be?”

Hands on hips, she lets out a great sigh. “Hmm, maybe I’d buy a painting from you if you did a proper one.”

“Sorry,” I say, “This is my last canvass.”

“Then paint over it. Let’s face it, that’s all it’s good for anyway.”

“Really? You want me to paint over this?”

“Yes, get going.” She watches me for a while. “Black? Why are you squirting out black?”

“It’s a nighttime painting.”

“Don’t be stupid. You can’t see anything at night. It’s dark. Do the painting in daytime. Use blue for the sky.”

I shrug and take some blues.

“You don’t need that many colours. Just blue.”

“But the sky…”

“That one.” She points.

“As you wish. You want all of the sky just this colour?”

“Listen closely and I’ll put you right. Yes, that colour.” After a few minutes, she says, “Stop there. Underneath that is green for the land.”

“I … any particular green?”

I wave some tubes at her but she points to a smear on my palate. “That one.”

“Right you are.”

“Straight from one side to the other, no more of your waviness.”

What I’ve painted so far looks like nothing on this planet. I’m tempted to ask her which one she comes from.

She nods like a satisfied schoolteacher. “Now you’re getting it. The house is a square with a triangle on top. White. The roof is this sort of angle.” She puts two fingers together. “Like that.”

I know what she’s after, and go to start the two windows at the top, but she stops me. “You’ve forgotten the chimney! Do I have to tell you everything?”

The chimney is white too, as are the blobs of smoke … apparently. Call myself an artist?

Two windows at the bottom as well, with triangles in the corners: curtains it seems. Cross the windows, door, a little path; no trees, aerials, cars, or birds … I mean let’s not delve into surreal and gratuitous madness. I ask, “Anything else?”

“The sun, you oaf: yellow.”

“How about…?”

“Yellow, round.” Hands on hips again, the lady nods. “Well done … at last. See, you can do it.”

“There you are then.” I say, “That’ll be fifty pounds. Come back in a week. The paint will be dry.”

She snorts. “Buy that? Don’t be silly. I had to tell you how to paint the damn thing properly from start to finish. Besides, I have one in every room already.”

©Gary Bonn, 2021