The Story of Al, Part 2

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White Flowers on a White Windowsill 

So my friend Al has taken the leap into the world of Fine Art. No boss telling him to put more emphasis on the car or on the lettering in the ad, no deadlines, no rejections and no do-overs. But also now no paycheck if no one thinks enough of his work to give him a bit of theirs. With a boss, he knew when his work was good and just where to make those needed changes. Being his own boss, he is now producer, marketing agent, chief financial officer, quality controller, etc. The weight of all these hats were waking him to the fact there is more to being a Fine Artist than he thought. Now it’s his face and his name out there on the work.
          Before, attending art exhibitions was fun, joking about bad paintings and thinking the good ones are simple to do. Now people would be joking about his work and thinking he took on simple subjects. They’d question his skills and choice of subjects. Worse, he would not be hearing those jokes and comments, now he’s in the dark as to what people really think. People are too kind, too polite to say when they dislike something. He once ate two helpings of a casserole he hated just to please his mother-in-law. No one ever says how they feel about the art to the artist. He’s gone so far as to rave about art he hated just to avoid the scene he imaged the artist would make upon hearing how he really felt.
          He never thought about these things before. It never occurred to him that people could misinterpret a simple still-life or see a gesture in a portrait and walk away in disgust. Comments from long ago were now popping up. His wife told him he was over thinking things, but his Fine Artist friends had told him stories of successful artists who ran afoul of their collecter’s base and sales dried up. “You don’t do nudes so why worry?” she said. If only he’d study computers more he’d still have a job designing ads… Painting his little landscapes was fun then. He laughed at people commenting on his art, asking what he was painting when it was clear he was doing a painting of the only white house there was in sight. Was his painting that far off the mark?
          Laying in bed he wondered whether to try life as a Fine Artist or take that job his brother-in-law offered him. He’d still be painting only it would be atop a ladder with a 4-inch brush and just one color from a bucket. His wife was fast asleep, no worries there. He rolled over, grabbed his pillow and put his thoughts on hold.
      His feet tangled in the sheets and woke him. His wife was already dressed and handing him coffee asking if he could not make another meatloaf for dinner. Since losing his job he became the cook and housekeeper. Meatloaf was simple to make and it lasted for three dinners. She was gone before he was fully awake. Alone he skipped the bathrobe and slippers and headed down the stairs. Henry, waiting at the back door, greeted him with a wagging tail, waited for some scratching before pawing the door. Henry had to sniff the yard before settling on a spot to leave his gift. Mrs. Miller called a hello but turned away before he could bid her a good morning. In just his shorts he was not presentable to his neighbor. He thought he was, she’d seen him mowing the lawn in his swim trunks which looked pretty much like his briefs… Henry secured to his line, he returned to his coffee to contemplate his day ahead. Two slices of toast were enough for breakfast with his present worries. Leaning against the kitchen counter he could see through to the living room – his paintings leaning against the sofa. Breaking the slice of toast into small pieces he drops them next to Henry’s dish as he walked into the dimly lit room. They looked pretty good in this light… could they not turn the lights on in the gallery he wondered? Henry barked to inform him he was ready to come in. Henry’s second bark let him know he was tangled in the wire fence put up to keep Henry out of the flower bed. He regretted not putting on his robe now because Henry was about to pull out the daylilies he wanted for a still-life. Mrs. Miller would just have to look the other way as he raced out to save them from an excited dog wanting his master to free and feed him.
          Finally dressed for painting, grabbing his French easel he was about to head out to the daylilies that caught his eye. “No meatloaf”, sounded in his head. Plans changed, paint the daylilies and he could make a real dinner. A quick trip to the store for the ingredients for that chicken dish his wife liked. How hard could it be to make? A read of the recipe and he was off to the Blue Goose for nice fresh chicken. Henry hopped into the car and they were gone.
          At the Blue Goose, he ran into Jerry who also was out of work. Jerry was buying for a grill out, he too was taking to Fine Arts for extra income. Young artists with degrees who are computer savvy are pushing a lot of his friends out of the commercial field, and all are looking for some art related work.
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