The canvas was blank. White actually, I guess white counts as a color, but for all intents and purposes it was blank and so was my mind. I felt the need to fill it, make something of it, but I didn’t know how to start.
There were times when the idea just flowed from my mind onto the work in such a rush that I didn’t even know if I’d had anything to do with it at all. As if it had just blinked into existence and my hand just happened to be the outlet that provided it’s release. Those were the good times.
Lately though, now that the gallery was calling, asking for more to display, I was starting to wonder if the well had finally run dry.
It had been a typical day, hours wasted at a day job I hated, bad coffee with annoying co-workers, rush-hour traffic all the way home. I tried to clear my mind, take a sip of tea and steady my hand, but the inspiration wouldn’t come.
Frustrated I set my cup down and slumped down into my chair pulling my legs up under me. I tried to visualize what color I was feeling, but all I could come up with was blue. Blue was better than white, but on it’s own it wasn’t art.
Why was I blue? Blue was such a passive color. Why couldn’t I be something exotic like carmine? There was a color with mystery and passion. Clearly this was getting me nowhere.
I unfolded myself from the chair and began pacing across the polished wood floors of my small studio apartment. I had thought myself quite the ‘real’ artist when I’d moved in here. Living in a studio, struggling to get by on my creativity. It had all sounded so much more romantic in my twenty-year-old mind.
The harsh realities of a diet consisting primarily of raw fruit and ramen noodles as I struggled to make it from paycheck to paycheck had killed the romance. Still this had been my dream, grow up, move out, become a real artist.
My parents had been cautiously supportive, so long as actually went to college they were happy enough to admit to knowing me. When I visited I still got the feeling they were waiting for me to drop the bomb, come clean and admit that they had been right and that I was changing my degree to something with a straight path to success. I never did make things easy on myself.
The gallery discovering me had been a happy accident. They had only accepted two of my pieces. The ones they felt would have the most ‘commercial success’ I suppose. Even amongst art types I didn’t seem to fit in.
All of this wasn’t helping. I considered just putting my paints away and saving this whole event for another time. I tried to create something everyday. Find something, no matter how small that would inspire me to take my skill to the next level.
Sometimes I cheated and just made sloppy sketches in my journal. It was a form of art, and a few even went on to inspire full paintings. I gazed at the journals laying open on the kitchen counter and just sighed. I’d been over them countless times in the past few days leading up to this.
It had been nearly a month since I’d done an actual painting. I had just been so preoccupied with nothing as of late. Finding all sorts of distractions to fill my time. Take my mind off the fact that I wasn’t really creating as much as I wanted. It was surprisingly easy to lose your motivation in a fast paced world of technology and for a time I embraced it.
Now I was paying the price. Chastising myself for being lazy and growing complacent with my position in the universe. How could I ever raise my head above the sea of mediocrity if I couldn’t even be bothered to turn off the TV?
I stopped in front of my poor blank canvas. Somewhere there was a statement waiting to come alive. I just had to find where the lines began and give them the color to be seen. I had to do it, because if I didn’t who would? Even if someone else did how would I know they would ever make the same statement that I could?
I picked up my brush and gently dipped it into the blue. I pushed it through the paint, feeling the texture and smoothness of the material. Ready or not, I was going to paint now.
The brush slide smoothly over the canvas leaving it’s mark, a single blue line curving from top to bottom. The canvas was blank no longer.
I wish I could say that I created an amazing piece. Something that took people’s breath away when they saw it, but the truth is that by the time I decided to call it quits it was just another canvas sloshed with paint that would probably never be seen outside of my tiny studio apartment.
Friends would say they liked it and my family would pretend to get it, but I’d know it was just a show of politeness. Still I was glad to have struggled. When I finally do make something amazing it will be all the more worthwhile if I had to fight to get myself there.
Besides, they can’t all be Rembrandt.