I have a little story I’ve been working up for a few years now. A bit of a departure from my normal stories, this one has absolutely no basis in fact. My intention is not to relay some previous sequence from my life’s history, but to parallel the truth in the sterile clean room of my mind. Some might call it an analogy, others a parable, I prefer to call it a painting.
This painting is quite an undertaking. I’m not entirely sure I can bring these images to life through my chosen medium. But then again, that is half the fun of painting, never quite knowing what the painting will emerge as. So as I decorate the walls and halls of your mind’s eye, please be patient. It is a work in progress which will only come to conclusion after it has had time to dry.
This painting is a portait of a man, a painter. There has never been a painter like him, and there will never be one like him again. Unlike me, he sees not just what the painting will emerge as, but what it is, what it was, how it got to where it is, and how it is going to where he wills it to go.
One painting in particular was truely spectacular. He spent a week preparing his studio, even going so far as to design it in such a way that it would become a part of the work. The studio became the canvas. Even the paints were his design, every color of the rainbow, every shade, every shimmer. The paints could move and grow together, so that to the untrained eye they seemed to move and grow on their own. As he painted, the colors and strokes combined in rich textures and soft patterns. There was light, there was beauty, there was life; and this all pleased the painter.
But he wanted to push this painting further. He mixed part of himself into his paints and added his own image to the mix. Now he was a part of the painting in a rich, deep way; he had created a self portrait that could move and grow on its own. Because these images were painted with himself, they could paint too. They used his paints, they copied his strokes, and the painting took on new life.
These images could even go so far as to create new images of themselves, which in turn were images of the painter. They had nearly unlimited creative freedom; there was only one rule: they could not use the black paint. It didn’t much matter to the images at first, the black paint was ugly. There were far more beautiful paints, some paints even allowed their image to never fade with time. But in time they saw that in a certain light, the black paint was very pleasing. And so they dipped their brushes in it and added the tinniest black dot to themselves.
But once they were black, they saw that they had ruined the painting. They tried to paint back over the black dot, but the black dot consumed the other paints. Because they had disobeyed him, because they had ruined themselves, the painter took away the paint that could preserve their image, and they began to fade.
They began painting everything black, completely consuming the painting in darkness. Even when they would try to paint with the beautiful colors again, the black paint would consume and overpower the other paints, until everything was just black.
The painter could not put his name on such a work. It was ruined, destroyed. The black paint tarnished and faded the images, till they vanished from the canvas, lost to the murky blackness forever. The images even took to painting each other with the blackness so feverishly that they could cause each other to fade and tarnish nearly instantly.
Some images tried very hard to please the painter, and he gave them rules for painting so that they could know how to please him, but invariably they went back to the black paint, and destroyed anything of beauty their hands had done.
The painter had a plan. He would put himself in the painting. Not in the paint like he did the first time. This time he would become paint, become an image. From inside the painting he taught the images how to paint with the painter’s heart, about why the painter painted in the first place. And though some would listen, none could understand.
Those who did not listen were so consumed with rage at this new image that they completely covered him with black paint. He took it all and faded away. But once he had faded and removed the black paint, the very blood of the painter became a new paint, a red paint. And this paint could consume the black paint.
This new paint didn’t use a brush though. The painter knew that the images that wanted to wouldn’t know how to use this new paint. So he helped them. To those who would not stop him, to those who turned to him, he put his name on them in the red paint. This name became a source of the red paint. And he showed those who carried his name how to use themselves as brushes to spread the red paint.
I know this little painting I’ve tried to paint is pretty rough around the edges, but I don’t particularly want to clean it up. I want it to be rough, I almost want it to be ugly. I want it to be obvious just which parts are analogy and which are truth. I want it to be obvious which parts are from the image and which parts are from the painter. I want you to know that there’s more to this painting than black paint.