The Painter

You will probably never meet the painter. She doesn’t spend a lot of time meeting people. She works a lot.

Have you ever seen a sunset so glorious and rich that you think that the colors have to be made? Someone, somewhere, has to be stirring pots of paint and then swiping a brush across the whole sky. Or have you seen the mountains, with their dimples of shadow and the careful hatch-marks of the trees that bristle against the sky? There are things like that, scenes and places. Bits of the world that are absolutely too perfect to simply happen. That is a true instinct. Those things – the colors, the lines and shapes, the delicacy of the sky brushing the seas – those are the work of the painter.

She wouldn’t brag about it, of course, she’s very modest. Sometimes once she’s finished with a new forest or hill or something she will sit, leaning against a tree and looking at her finished pieces with glazed eyes and a sigh. It’s hard for her to see it, but when she sits for long enough she feels the beauty of what she’s done, and a faint pride that stirs in her breast and nestles deep in her bones.

Of course she loves her work. It’s important work, true and honest work. The world couldn’t do well without it. Because of her there is beauty in the world. Even so – or perhaps because of that – it is exhausting work. When she’s smudged in the last stroke of the rays shed by the sun, or smeared moonlight across the sky, she sinks with weariness. The breath rushes out of her lungs and she folds onto the ground. It’s a long minute before she picks herself back up.

There are places where the painter doesn’t work. Even if you somehow found the painter, you would never find these places. They are frightening, bare and cold. The places she leaves be are small, folded into the corner of a desert nobody has seen or twined through the murky depths of a long lonely river. They are pale and blank like a canvas still waiting for the touch of a brush.

Those places are quiet, and the painter loves them. They do not need the breath of her paint, and they will continue on without it. They will still be as cold and stark as ever, untouched by the relentless beauty of the brightness she has to bring. At the end of a very long day, the painter is tired. She closes her eyes against the blazing beauty of a sunrise, turns from the shadows that stretch long and blue across the snow. When the days are done she longs for a pure simplicity where the colors won’t glare at her.

When she’s done with her work, the painter searches for those places where she’s never worked. She finds the empty hollow of a mountain, or the heart of a forest that’s forgotten to look like anything. If you were to find the painter – and she is hard to find – you should look there. You might find her in one of those white places. She will be curled around her bundle of You will probably never meet the painter. She doesn’t spend a lot of time meeting people. She works a lot.

Have you ever seen a sunset so glorious and rich that you think that the colors have to be made? Someone, somewhere, has to be stirring pots of paint and then swiping a brush across the whole sky. Or have you seen the mountains, with their dimples of shadow and the careful hatch-marks of the trees that bristle against the sky? There are things like that, scenes and places. Bits of the world that are absolutely too perfect to simply happen. That is a true instinct. Those things – the colors, the lines and shapes, the delicacy of the sky brushing the seas – those are the work of the painter.

She wouldn’t brag about it, of course, she’s very modest. Sometimes once she’s finished with a new forest or hill or something she will sit, leaning against a tree and looking at her finished pieces with glazed eyes and a sigh. It’s hard for her to see it, but when she sits for long enough she feels the beauty of what she’s done, and a faint pride that stirs in her breast and nestles deep in her bones.

Of course she loves her work. It’s important work, true and honest work. The world couldn’t do well without it. Because of her there is beauty in the world. Even so – or perhaps because of that – it is exhausting work. When she’s smudged in the last stroke of the rays shed by the sun, or smeared moonlight across the sky, she sinks with weariness. The breath rushes out of her lungs and she folds onto the ground. It’s a long minute before she picks herself back up.

There are places where the painter doesn’t work. Even if you somehow found the painter, you would never find these places. They are frightening, bare and cold. The places she leaves be are small, folded into the corner of a desert nobody has seen or twined through the murky depths of a long lonely river. They are pale and blank like a canvas still waiting for the touch of a brush.

Those places are quiet, and the painter loves them. They do not need the breath of her paint, and they will continue on without it. They will still be as cold and stark as ever, untouched by the relentless beauty of the brightness she has to bring. At the end of a very long day, the painter is tired. She closes her eyes against the blazing beauty of a sunrise, turns from the shadows that stretch long and blue across the snow. When the days are done she longs for a pure simplicity where the colors won’t glare at her.

When she’s done with her work, the painter searches for those places where she’s never worked. She finds the empty hollow of a mountain, or the heart of a forest that’s forgotten to look like anything. If you were to find the painter – and she is hard to find – you should look there. You might find her in one of those white places. She will be curled around her bundle of brushes, smudges of paint on her hands, surrounded by the eerie blankness and smiling in her sleep.

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