Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Artist

A small, shabby house. An old man lives alone, wears an ex-Army greatcoat indoors and out and as a blanket for his bed at night. The kitchen has an antique cooker covered in iron-hard spilled food. There is one pan, a bowl and two forks. There is one mug. A cupboard contains tins of beans and a large jar of coffee.

Downstairs is a single long room containing an ancient armchair. There is no carpet, just floorboards, bare and dirty. Around this room, stacked up against the walls, are hundreds of canvasses, some used, some pristine and waiting for inspiration and paint to flow.

There is a refrigerator.

Tall and startlingly white, it stands incongruously in the centre of the room, humming quietly. On top of it are brushes and palette knives and the tools of the artist’s trade. Inside, it is packed with oil paints of every imaginable colour and mix, in a glorious assortment of pots and tubes. No food, just paint.

There is an easel, a bare canvas in place, waiting for the soft pencil to sketch out the next masterpiece. It never will. The final picture has been completed. The artist has gone forever.

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