The Painter

challenge here.

It’s become habit, buying new glassware every so often. These days, I can’t walk into a department store without drifting over to the cups and glasses, can’t shop online without selecting new paint and brushes so thin you’d be afraid to hold them for fear of snapping them.

Each time I come home, unpack and then go straight to the paints. There are so many tubes and half-tubes, partially mixed and lining the shelf with splotches that come from lack of care taken. I’ve forgotten what colour the palette is underneath.

At my table, I sketch out my newest outline, meld together colours on paper. Flip the newest coffee mug upside down and begin a Sharpie outline on the base. My hand trembles, shaking for reasons that I can’t explain – it’s nothing to do with the creation, or the permanence of marking something with my own stamp.

These eyes are exaggerated, they always are, and tonight the iris is too big, the pupil a thin line around them. There’s no need for eyelashes, because these eyes are not for beauty’s sake. They are for superstition, even though I have generally never been superstitious. Somewhere along the way, this concept was one which began to appeal to me, appealing more and more when I learnt to create my own designs, silently invoking my own words as I worked.

In a way these eyes are grotesque, bearing no apparent expression or liveliness. Even so, they compel you to look – these ones are inky dark mixed with something else, the kind that drives you mad trying to figure out the name of the colour and leaves you disappointed when you can’t. They are huge, bigger than the average human’s, and you might almost think there something monstrous about them. If you’d had a few to drink, you might start imagining them come to life, watching you.

You’d be right, in a way: they are watching you for safety, for protection.

I finish with a slow swoop of a slightly thicker brush, drawing the eyebrows in almost comically. It softens the overall effect a bit, and I leave it to dry as I clean up, invoking the familiar words.

Tonight, I will reperform the words, laying the mug on an altar and offering a gift. Perhaps it works; perhaps it does not.

Either way, it is comforting.

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