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I am sitting cross-legged on the floor in the middle of a large room enclosed by tall wood walls and a wood ceiling. There is a tiny window high up letting in a dim light above a small dark closet with a little door tucked in one corner where I keep my painting supplies.

Today I am determined to empty my skull of the static and itching. I start with a sketchpad and a pen. A tiny scribble appears in the middle of the white space. It grows like a spider’s web and fills the sheet. I fetch a piece of paper bigger than the pad and resume my position. The scribble expands to the edges, overflows and fills the back. I find a small stretched canvas, paint, and brushes and begin splashing color. I work with a small brush and get lost in a tiny detail. I feel pinched, confined, locked in, restrained, claustrophobic, penned up so to speak. I need to break out. I find a bigger brush to distance myself from the tiny details, stop me from making perfect corners, and eliminate straight lines. Again I’m trapped in a corner, trying to escape.

I start over with a big piece of floppy canvas on the floor and a huge brush and a bucket of paint. Quickly the canvas fills. I drag the canvas across the room and nail it high on the wall and attach other pieces to each side, above, and below until the canvas grows over the wall like a living spreading fungus. I climb a ladder and splash the paint. It runs down the surface in little rivers. I become frantic. I need more paint. I drag in a collection of buckets with different colors. I have a brush in each hand and I begin splashing furiously. The paint drips from my chin. I feel compelled.

But now I need more room, so I retrieve a long thick roll of heavy brown paper and I tack pieces of it to the wall, high and long, put up in big sections overlapped and taped together and hammered on the wall. I continue with a big brush, buckets of paint in different colors and a fist full of fat pastels moving up and down a creaking shaky ladder and traveling over the surface with wide strokes and skips, trips and slides, dashes and streaks. Sometimes I use two brushes, sometimes a brush in one hand, pastels in the other, sometimes a bare hand plowing my fingers through the paint. The colors and lines overlap and dash across the surface weaving a fantastic dazzling fabric of form and color. I’m in another universe now traveling alone under an open sky over unexplored terrain. I feel released, freed.

I need more space so I add paper to the walls left and right and behind, traveling up and down the ladder hammering and raising a ruckus of noise and dust until all walls are completely covered. The shapes and color flow over them like a dam bursting. The top looks cut off, so I tack paper to the ceiling and the colors ooze above me. The painting is a living thing with a force of its own. I try a roller for a while and then I throw the paint from the buckets at the surfaces. I am at war attacking the paper with liquid color and swords of bristle. The painting takes over the floor, so paper goes down to give the ooze a place to flow. It creeps over my shoes and up my pant legs across my shirt and covers my head. I am one with the painting. It consumes me.

I awaken on the floor. A large sticky brush is still in one hand and the pastels are scattered about crushed and gummy. Another brush has drowned in a bucket of paint. A roller lies twisted and bent near a colorful puddle. Other buckets are standing about like soldiers at the ready. A few are flopped over, exhausted or dead, killed by a platoon of fallen brushes. The ladder lays nearby toppled on its side. I try to get up, but the sticky paint clings to me like ivy. I pull a little harder and the stick lets go. I stand in soggy shoes with my clothes pasted to my skin and hair plastered to my face. My eyes wander about the space traveling the streams of dribbles, trailing over the landscape through forests of color over mountains of form and I realize that I haven’t eaten. I pick up a brush and find an over-turned bucket with a puddle of paint in the bottom.

Sitting on the floor I begin to paint a plate, then a bowl, then a platter, and a basket. I gather a few more buckets and brushes and paint bread in the basket, meat and cheese on the platter, and fruit in the bowl. I paint a bottle of wine, then a glass, and put food on the plate with utensils and a napkin, and wine in the glass. I paint a cloth below a shady tree, a picnic basket, cool green grass, ants crawling, flies buzzing, and I embellish the distant forest. I am painting at full throttle now with distant snow capped mountains, deer gazing at me, birds in the trees. I paint over the ceiling with a turquoise sky, warm sun, then fluffy white clouds. The ooze of the paint begins to accelerate and my brushes speed over the surfaces. I am frantically grabbing for buckets, tossing the empties to the side and prying open fresh cans. I finish a broad meadow stretching to the mountains and a river flowing through. I climb to the sky.

The sky begins to pulse and gray clouds appear in the distance. The brushes seem self-propelled and I am just along for a rollicking ride. A cool breeze comes in followed by more dark clouds pushing the fluffy white to the side as the breeze picks up. I ghost a deer into the foliage, then another and then another. They are running toward me now; a herd; a huge herd. And birds in the sky; flocks and flocks of birds; they darken the sky flying over the huge herd of deer, the ominous boiling soup of clouds pushing the entire mass over the walls and ceiling and across the floor coming at me like a tsunami wave. Paint is flying everywhere; a tornado of paint wrapped in a hurricane. The paint and images wash over me and bring me to my knees. There is no shelter to seek, no escape from this torrent of muse gone wild. I am hit by a flood and washed away to a far corner as the paint swirls around and wraps itself in a dark shroud.

I revive slumped in the corner wet and shivering. The room is a black hole. The smells of paint and oil and thinner make my head spin. I try to rub the fog out of my eyes, but my hands are covered with paint and my vision blurs. A glint of light comes through a small bare spot in the window glass untouched by dripping paint. It makes a little moon shining over the dim landscape. The paint slowly, ever so slowly, oozes down the wall, the glint disappears and it is dark.

I am a long time property owner in Door County where I have been regularly seeking tranquility for over twenty-five years. By trade I am an architect who appreciates many forms of creativity. I have attended short story writing classes at the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee and Cardinal Stritch University.