Saturday, 31 July 2010
For my 21st birthday Bingley bought me a box of oil paints and the tools with which to apply them to canvas in the hope that even if he didn't quite understand my need to create that I would use them and love them. But although I have written a great deal in the intervening years, I have not painted much, and my oil paints were in much the same pristine condition as they were 7 years ago.
Or they were until this afternoon, when in a period of suspicious quietness the girls found them, and decided to do some painting. Which, had it been confined to the paper that they originally brought out for the task I may have smiled benevolently about. Instead, after painting some butterflies et al, they noticed the beautiful way that oil paint spreads and feels on bare skin. Thick and lustrously they painted a veritable rainbow of colour on hands and feet and arms and faces.
Before realising, in a panic, that they couldn't wipe it off. Or, after surreptitiously sneaking into the bathroom, that it wouldn't merely wash off either. In fact, it was only the panicked shrieks from the bathroom that alerted us to the state of affairs. With the dining table awash in a glorious sunset of purples and oranges, the bathroom floor smeared with red and blue and the bathtub and every single other surface between the two liberally daubed with smudges of every colour in between.
They had had a glorious time massaging the rich shiny paint into their skin, and it was not without considerable scrubbing with soap that I managed to do much more than smear it further, the bath water turning richly pink.
It was bittersweet watching it all gurgle down the drain too (quite apart from the environmental impact); thinking of all those dreams I once had. Of living by my imagination and my creativity instead of by steady hard work. Of writing at a greyed wood desk by an open window overlooking a garden where the mists prowl and play before spending the afternoon streaked with paint as I pour out my soul via my fingers.
It felt like I lost a teensy bit of that hope today, watching the swirl of paint and smelling the noxious pungency of turpentine as it curled up my nostrils and infiltrated the hidden locks in my brain to places I don't want to think about today.
So I scrubbed instead, until my fingernails peeled and I stopped thinking.