Perfect Strangers

Their meeting was brief and courteous as he entered the studio.

“Take a seat over there and I’ll just get myself ready,” she said.

“Sure. So what do you want me to do? I haven’t done this before.”

“Just sit naturally and chat. It will take some time. I will pick bits and pieces I notice and add them in. It’s not like a photo. I’ll try and capture some of your character, some of your spirit.”

“How long will it take?

“It won’t be done in the one sitting. We’ll work at it over several sessions.”

She slipped her arms in to her paint smattered coat and rested her weight upon a stool, grateful he agreed to do it. He was so famous. So admired. Her – less so.

She began to paint. Gentle strokes at first. A highlight here, a touch there. Was it right? What was her theme? How would she proceed? Colours?  A portrait.  Archibald images eclipsed her mind’s eye. So many interpretations of a subject. So many styles. Caricature, minimalist, abstract, realist, impressionist.  Honest.  She could only add her voice to the multitude of those that congregated in cacophony.  A beautiful thing. A glimpse of how another saw you.

‘Was he prepared for that honesty?’ She wondered. ‘Would he be pleased with the result? Or disappointed that her vision was not how he saw himself?’ These questions could only be answered when she finished.

‘Channel,’ she thought. ‘A channel. You must become a channel. Channel the energy of the universe. Open your mind and it will flow into you. Through you. A conduit.’

The image of a wild brumby, raced through the high country pasture of her mind. It’s mane flicked in the cool crisp air. She lashed a few strokes around his hairline. She stared into a white void. A face absent from the tableau. ‘Fire. There is fire in his eyes.’

The bristles hushed upon the canvas. There was now more purpose to her work in the presence of an audience. An impartial subject and also observer.

Their interaction would be dried in in perfect paint. Like a brushstroke. Imprecise, impermanent, incomplete.

© Anthony Wood 2012

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