Friday, April 6, 2012

Watercolors from Another Life

Still pretty busy with the new condo, but still got a quick little one out. Please let me know what you think, and as always, feel free to be extra stabby with your critiques. It's the only way to help both of us grow.



The watercolor with its large, bulky frame hanging on my living room wall was my prized possession. Not that it was particularly good and not that I paid a lot for it, but it inspired almost every major decision I had ever made. It had the ability to draw me in and and seemed to extol wisdom from the very canvas.
Before I proposed to my wife, I spent hours on the couch in a nervous fit. It was the painting that got me to settle down and ask her. When I needed consolation when I lost my job, I found it in the dreary colors of that old European town. Even when I began drafting the plans for my dream home, how the painting would be lit by the sun was a major consideration.
Nobody else understood my obsession with it. My wife, parents, and children were baffled. But it was harmless and they accepted it as one of my quirks.
I used to dream that I was the artist in another life. It was the only explanation I could think of for my connection to it. At least this is how I explained it to my family and friends.
But when, for my birthday, my son decided to have my painting re-framed into something less absurd, I nearly had a heart attack. For the first time, the signature in the bottom corner became visible.
I wanted to feel revulsion, but instead I felt closer to it. I hated myself and my claims that I was the artist in another life, but the connection was still there. I ran my fingers over the bold black signature in the corner that read, ‘A Hitler.’

7 comments:

Sulci Collective April 6, 2012 at 6:41 PM  

oooh this is good, very powerful punch in the end

marc nash

Tim VanSant Writes April 6, 2012 at 9:20 PM  

I like this piece, but there are two bits that pulled me out of the story. While watercolor painting may be on canvas or other medium, it is most commonly done on paper. [I did a quick search on this painting and didn't find any mention of what it is painted on, so for all I know it might really be on canvas. It just struck me as odd.] And designing a home based on "how the painting would be lit by the sun" also struck me as odd. Direct sunlight would almost certainly cause it to fade and deteriorate quickly. That would be a really bad way to design a house.

John Wiswell April 7, 2012 at 4:11 AM  

So, how bad is it that I found the ending very funny and not gut-punching? Because the dramatic counterpoint of the almost quaint attraction to the painting and the origin of the painting registers that way for me. I'm not sure if that's a character flaw on my part.

Michael Tate April 7, 2012 at 9:44 AM  

Marc: Glad you like it and the punch.

Tim: I bet your right on watercolors...but I'm not much of a visual artist so in this case I just guessed. Good point too on the sunlight.

John: It is actually pretty funny if you're not the guy I suppose. I don't think it's a character flaw.

Thanks to all of you for the comments.

Helen April 7, 2012 at 10:18 PM  

I've been a watercolourist for over 20 years and I have to say I haven't seen one painted on canvas, except that Acrylic is often considered water based as you mix it with water and this is painted on canvas.

I liked the story, I too loose myself in a painting that hangs on my bedroom wall, but unlike you narrator I actually did paint it.

I too didn't find the ending impacted me the way I after thought it should, it made me smile rather than be shocked.

Icy Sedgwick April 8, 2012 at 2:08 PM  

The world would have been a very, very different place if his application to art school hadn't been rejected. So very interesting highlight on an often forgotten fact!

I have to agree with Helen and Tim that you don't paint watercolours on canvas but I suppose that's more of a nitpicky detail than anything else. As to the point about the light, I assumed he meant the light on the buildings in the painting, not the light on the painting itself. Maybe that was just me.

MAJK April 8, 2012 at 6:47 PM  

that ending can only be described as a punch right in the gut. Excellent!

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