Thursday, March 6, 2008

Finegan's Wake ©

Bill Longworth,
March 6, 2008

“Hi Melanie,” I said, a little surprised to see my daughter at the door. “Thanks for dropping in. It’s great that you brought over Finegan. I haven’t seen him for a while and he’s getting enormous…growing like a weed. Excuse my mess with the paint and all everywhere. I’m so excited. I’ve just been finishing up a landscape to submit to my first juried art show. It’s tough trying to choose the three to enter. Glad you’re here to help me choose.

“Well Dad,” Melanie responded, “We can’t stay long. Finegan gets a little rambunctious as you know.”

“We’ll let everything drop for a moment then,” I said, “We’ll just push the paint and sandwiches aside and spread the landscapes out on the table and put on the kettle. Surely you have time for a coffee. Maybe you can help me make my choices while the water boils.”

“Yeah! Sounds great Dad…but we really don’t have much time.”

“This one, I’ve just been painting is one of my best, I think, and I’m sure I want to enter it after a few more touch ups. I’ve got all of those paint jars open just trying to visualize the colours I want. So what do you think about the others?”

“That one with the canoes,” Melanie exclaimed, “Don’t think I’d consider that. I don’t like the colours. Besides, I like people in paintings. I think people give you someone to relate to. You’re always wondering what’s going through their mind and it has a way of drawing you into the picture.”

“Oh, too bad! I’ve always loved that picture. It doesn’t have people, but the empty canoes certainly draw me right into the picture. The area looks remote and the empty canoes indicate there must be people nearby. It’s like I’m invited right into their camp to enjoy the spot with them. I guess when it comes right down to it, I’m going to have to decide for myself. Let’s go to the other room and have the coffee.”

“Yeah Dad,” Melanie said as we moved to the kitchen, “But it will have to be quick.“

While chatting, we heard a large crash in the back room. Rushing in, we were shocked at the sight.

Finegan, Melanie’s huge dog, had jumped up on the table to grab the lunchtime sandwich I’d left. In his excitement to grab the sandwich, he had dumped most of the paint bottles, run through the paint, and over all the paintings. They were completely ruined. I was aghast. I had nothing left for the show.

My beautiful landscapes had huge random blobs of paint, the colours of which had been mixed by the stirring of the dog’s paws. It looked as if Mr. Rorschach partnered with me by highlighting my work with his colourful paint blobs. What was I going to do?

The interesting and randomly shaped blobs did seem to provide a distinctive air to the pieces and the colours I’d left open on the table provided an interesting contrast to the original colours in my paintings. I didn’t think I'd ever seen paintings like this so as a last resort, I chose three of the best of the “new” pieces and took them over to the show.

The pieces attracted a lot of attention as I was seen as a very creative visionary doing something that no one had ever seen.

The result?

“Congratulations Bill,” said the adjudicator, “Your paintings are the best in the show. You seem to have developed a new painting frontier, a blend of landscape realism with abstract surrealism something we’ve never seen. It’s like opening up a new school of art, like Picasso’s Cubism or French Impressionism. Many around the world will now be trying to emulate your work. Congratulations!”

His remarks presented me with a moral dilemma. Should I fess up to the story behind the paintings?

“No,” I rationalized to myself. “The beauty of a painting often results from happy and unforeseen accidents rather than detailed planning, and the act of being creative is seeing the value of what you, and circumstances, have done.”

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