The brush was ruined. It lay on the table – paint, red as blood, dry as bone, adhered to its bristles. In contrast the canvas lay bare, insufferable in its nakedness.

Sarah cast her eyes around her studio. Frames and canvasses were stacked, paints arranged, brushes ready. There were no reasons, no excuses to delay painting, nothing left to tidy.

Her wonderful creative mess which lured her out of bed each morning and kept her up late each night, was gone. The cluttered studio with brushes in jars, dirty rags and the smell of paint, was no more.

Her urge to create had evaporated. Her passion had walked out the door along with Simon and her future dreams. For a week Sarah had sat, waiting for inspiration, overwhelmed by sadness. When the inspiration hadn’t reappeared, she had cleaned; neatened, stacked, washed, scrubbed, arranged and rearranged. She had flushed out every vestige of Simon, ready to create a masterpiece.

Except her studio was now cold and unrecognizable in its order. Alien to her. The canvas taunted her, daring her to make a mark. Angrily she swept the ruined brush to the floor.

A ray of sunshine beamed through the window cutting a golden path across the empty canvas. Sarah grabbed a sable brush and a tube of Hansa yellow; with two deft strokes she captured the pathway.

She added a dark forest, grey skies and distant hills. Quickly she placed a second canvas beside the first. Sarah pictured herself emerging from the forest. She created a clearing sky. A stream that meandered through green meadows. A path crossing over a pretty bridge. Grabbing a third canvas she crossed over the bridge, to a field of wildflowers bathed in sunshine.

Sarah smiled. Paint tubes lay everywhere, rags and brushes littered the tabletop. Her studio was alien no more. The paintings were no masterpieces, but they would serve to remind her that she was her own muse. Her ability to create was never dependent upon Simon. She would paint her own way out of the forest. Sarah reached for a tube of cadmium red.

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2 years ago

The rebirth of an artist, a story told in stark simplicity. The inspirational moment touches the heart, and the almost frenzied action that follows is pure, beautiful energy.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
2 years ago

I love how through canvas and paint you take Sarah on a journey of freedom, restoring her passion and sense of self. Nicely done Mary.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
2 years ago

Super story of rediscovery, Mary. I think Linda has said exactly what I was thinking. Well done.

Alan Kemister
Alan Kemister(@alan-kemister)
2 years ago

Interesting story. She resets the scene by cleaning away her old life, then she needs a spark (the sunbeam) to trigger her self-motivated resurgence. But what is the meaning of cadmium red in the last line? Does she have vengeance in mind?

Alan Kemister
Alan Kemister(@alan-kemister)
Reply to  Mary Wallace
2 years ago

Makes sense, but you did mention blood in that first line. That little foreshadowing stuck with me.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
2 years ago

A beautiful piece of writing, Mary! I love it how you take Sarah, and the reader, from the darkness, via the clearing sky, to the sun-bathed field. She has gone through a dark and tough period and certainly her art is now taking on a deeper, more mature shape.

Santina Forlenza
Santina Forlenza(@santina-forlenza)
2 years ago

Hi Mary, I’m so glad to read that Sarah’s ‘wonderful creative mess’ came back to her. I like to believe that it was when she decided to be again what she really is; to trust her feelings again. Thank you so much for this story, Mary.

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
1 year ago

I’m deeply touched by the regeneration of the artist in your story.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Hello Mary, what a lovely story of self discovery, and non reliance, told in inspirational colour?.

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