It started out with a lone canvas, pale, blank, untainted. It doesn’t matter if it’s made of linen for oil painting, or cotton for acrylic; it was a sturdy fabric of significant strength. And though bare it was, it had beauty, potential, like a page of a book that will soon be filled by a seasoned writer. It had beauty, potential, like a piano sheet waiting to be written on. It was empty, but it had potential for beauty. It was only waiting for the master Painter to draw on it.
And the Painter had looked on it for years, wondering when he could fill it and with what. Like all forms of art, there was the element of season, the element of time. It could not be rushed otherwise it would be ruined. The Painter was making sure the time was right, the time was perfect. He would not draw on it even if the canvas was beckoning him, “come, draw on me. Paint me colors, add life.” Like all forms of art, there was also the important element of thought. What was the Painter to draw on it? What would be the theme, the subject, the composition? It could not be done thoughtlessly; he had to be considerate and attentive. He had to think things through —the best he could. He wanted the drawing to have meaning. He wanted the meaning to convey truth. And he wanted truth to speak out loud. He simply would not settle for a thoughtless, meaningless, untruthful drawing. It had to be a reflection of him —the Painter. It had to be his own.
So the canvas stood there, untouched, for how long only the painter and the canvas know. It had beauty, potential, but it was empty. The canvas stood there, waiting, waiting, waiting ‘til the Painter draws on it. “Come, draw on me, paint me colors, add life,” it cried. But it stood there, untouched.
Until one day, the canvas met another painter. The painter had never gone to this part of the room where the canvas stood. Everything was foreign to him. And when he saw the lone canvas, he was amazed at its nakedness. Outside were paintings screaming of color, shade, life. But this canvas had been left untouched, left uncared for. He thought, “Why has it taken so long for any painter to draw on it?” The painter was eager to touch it, to make it his own. He did not consider the time nor the thought behind it. He did not consider what he would use to draw on it, or how he would let the painting have meaning, convey truth, and speak out loud. He just wanted to try it out, see what would come out of his painting. And the canvas said, “yes, paint on me! I trust you to make me a work of art.”
So the painter drew lines upon lines. He had them long, short, zig-zag, spiral and circles. He drew all kinds of shapes and colors of different shades and hues —but above all he poured on red, for passion, he thought. And the canvas was thrilled. For the first time, the canvas felt alive. He had been drawn on. He now has something to show.
But the painter was easily displeased. As he looked on the canvas that was half-finished, he saw neither beauty nor potential for beauty. He only saw lines, and shapes, and colors that gave no meaning. “What was I thinking?” he thought. Too careless and unconcerned to repair his damage, he left the canvass unfinished. He did not bother cleaning up; he did not even want to touch it again. He dashed towards the door, ran as fast as he could, until he was no more. He left the canvass portraying a picture of disorder, confusion, nothingness. He left the canvas feeling even more uncared for. The canvas was heartbroken.
The original Painter soon returned to find that his canvas had been drawn on. He was sad the canvas could not wait for him, for at that moment, he had already in mind the painting he wanted to draw. It had a story, a beautiful one, majestic and only for him. It was a story no other paintings have or could have. It was his own. The canvas lay there speechless, ashamed for it had not waited. It looked at itself as tainted, ugly and used. It did not want the Painter to work on him any longer for shame. The canvass felt useless.
The Painter insisted it was okay; He wanted to work on the canvas. “I can restore you to your beauty; I can even make you new.” But the canvas would not let him. “I am tainted. Is there still beauty left in me?” It wanted to go back to the other painter, and the other painter obliged, if only for pity. He tried to remedy his mistake, tried to make up for his error, but no matter how much he drew on the canvas, the painting seemed to be distorted more and more, until the canvas could not recognize itself anymore.
Too embittered, the canvas gave up. “I am covered in too many drawings. Don’t you see how the lines and shapes don’t make sense? The colors don’t even give life. I cannot see myself anymore.” It pled to the other painter, “I want to go back. Do not try to remedy me; it is not you I need. I need my master Painter.”
And the canvas, with nothing left of itself, went back to its original Painter. “Please work on me if you can. I am already a tainted canvas.”
And the Painter took the canvas in to his drawing room and said, “Tainted you may be, but still lovely. Now let me work on these markings, and I will make a beautiful painting out of it.”
KZ abesamis, Nov. 18, 2009