Inquiry: An abstract artist’s autumn of realism

by LJ Frank

It all began on a Sunday morning before sunrise. I made some black coffee as an early heavy rain pounded the metal roof of the barn in which I was an artist working on behalf of a client. I constructed a number of two by fours in the shape of a large rack upon which I placed a six-foot in height by four feet in width, three-inch deep staple free canvas.

After sketching out an idea in pencil of an old world vision a French artist might entertain for personal sensual enjoyment as well as the expressed wishes of my client, I decided to add touches of realism with an array of oils to give texture, character and life to this promising work. It’s significant to remember I etched a design, admittedly with the mind of a free-thinker and with no one looking over my shoulder, instilled it with a life of its own.

I was alone with my creation save some background music from a satellite radio, and so with the rhythms of the music as a backdrop I indulged myself. I used a long wood handle brush with a modest dollop of paint dripping off the pig bristle as a rather curious shape began to form with each stroke and realistic touches emerged of which I became amazed at how much I progressed over the years.

After nine hours plus a few breaks to rest my diligent hands and passionate heart, there was the appreciation I may have gone too far. For, with each stroke the brush brought the abstract painting more alive than originally anticipated. I hastily stepped back as I noticed the limbs of the figure on the canvas were suddenly reaching out to me and wrapping around my body and drawing me into the painting itself.

The more effort I bear to extricate myself from her arms and legs the quicker I realized they were getting longer than I purposefully composed and found myself being pulled into the painting itself, experiencing an existential crisis of dimension and shouting, “Wait! The dimension I’m in is enough!”

It was at that moment I woke up in a cold sweat realizing it was just a bad dream and then something even stranger occurred. I rose from my cot less than fifteen feet from the canvas to find the oversized painting was mostly finished and a voluptuous woman of abstract descent peered down from the canvas with a smile on her face while her right eyelid was partially closed as if she was winking.

 I stood there enthralled with the smell of Jasmine in the room while drops of water splattered next to the canvas from a leak in the roof when the door of the barn opened and my client walked in and closely examined the painting and said, “I love it. Oh, I hope you didn’t mind the flowers I brought in while you dozed off.” She pointed to a vase full of flowers on a shelf behind me.

“Thank you,” I said, while scratching my chin.