This is an exercise I wrote to outline the struggle for perfection in art.
The brush clattered to the floor as Patrick clasped his hands together. It was finally complete. He stared wistfully at his work. Perfection. Every single brush stroke was exactly how he had envisioned it. Every nuance of color accentuating not detracting. The rough texture of the canvas now smooth from his strokes.
He stepped back to admire his labors. His heart was pounding so hard all sound in the room had faded save the rushing blood pounding through him. He wiped the perspiration that had gathered on his lip above his pencil thin mustache. He had kept the lights as bright as he possibly could in the room to pick up the minute corrections he would need to make as he worked but now he walked toward the switches.
With a snapping flourish , Patrick flicked all but one switch. Now his masterpiece sat with only a single over head light casting its illumination on it. Dust motes drifted through the air as was expected in such a cramped and musty work space but he hardly noticed. His perfectly tousled blonde curls that took an hour each day to coif into a look that most people simply had when they woke up each morning had drifted down over his eyes and he pushed it back with his fingertips. The accumulated stress sweat of the last hours work coated his hands which he promptly wiped on the front of his clinging t-shirt.
His breath caught in his throat as he viewed it in its singular glory. His eyes roved over its surface taking it in. His fingers began to curl into his palms and a wave of heat washed over his face as the light at this angle struck it. The roots of his hair tingled with the tell-tale feeling of shame and he let out his breath as a rattling sigh.
” Too much blue,” Patrick growled low in his chest as he reached for his brushes. His breath coming now in short pants as he feverishly dipped and spread colors trying to even the tones. A single droplet of sweat trickled down his temple to pool in one of his now scarlet ears. It was his one dead give away to his frustration. His ears would grow inflamed at the thought of his work being seen in such a shameful state.
His hands were all but a blur as he fired brush stroke after brush stroke like a fighter throwing combinations of punches. He simply couldn’t get the right blend of light and dark, composition and form. He was near frantic when a splash of pink seemingly appeared out of no where and it simply refused to be covered. He was now holding his breath as he worked and his vision began to darken around the edges as he neared fainting.
The damp concrete walls of his work space began to close in on him and the musky scent from the racks of clothing hanging on what looked like hotel luggage carriers permeated every rattling breath he drew in through his nose and expelled with a hiss through his clamped together teeth. His jaws were clamped together so tightly the muscles of his lower jaw bulged like a bulldogs jowls.
Sweat whipped from his brow as he turned quickly and grabbed a rag from a low slung wood desk that he stored his supplies in. Practically foaming at the mouth, he wiped away whole sections of his work and tried vainly to recreate what he had just destroyed. A pounding began to build in his head that simply wouldn’t cease. He blocked in from his mind as he worked even more diligently to blend and shape the colors. Perfection was a fickle thing he knew but he sought it nevertheless.
The pounding became must more insistent to the point Patrick realized it was actually someone knocking on the steel door he always locked when he was deep into his work. With a snarl on his lips, he snapped the brush he was holding in his hand and threw the shattered pieces on either side of him. His breath coming in now in the short bursts of a prize-fighter in the late rounds of a fight as he stomped to the door and unlocked it. As soon as the click of the lock could be heard, the door burst open shoving him back in the blaze of the well-lit hallway.
” What the fuck is taking so long?,” A gravely voice demanded, preceding the entry of its owner into the room. Patrick staggered back as the imposing frame of his employer stalked past him to see his work. The scent of cologne bought from a gas station bathroom wafted over Patrick causing him to nearly gag. It was a personal favorite of Max, his boss of over three years and it never failed to produce the same response. He coated every inch of his chiseled and spray tanned body with it every chance he got.
” It’s not perfect,” he mumbled as he drifted over and stood beside the fuming pile of muscle. His slight and pale frame the exact juxtaposition to the man who lifted his work from the chair it had been propped on and setting it on the floor to fully inspect it.
” What the fuck are you talking about?,” Max said coldly as he turn his steely gaze to the cowering man ” She looks fantastic.”
They both then looked at the smiling face framed by straight blonde hair hanging perfectly over tanned shoulders. A smile spread over the young woman’s face and she shifted uncomfortably in the ill-fitting pink lace shift she wore. Her makeup, that Patrick had labored so intensely on, covered the fact she was barely out of her teens and fresh off the bus from some backwoods town no one even asked the name of. She pressed herself against the rippling frame of actor/director/producer Max Steele as she kissed his cheek before giggling and sashaying out the door.
The instant she was out of sight, Max grabbed the front of Patrick’s damp shirt in his massive balled fist and hoisted the smaller man of the floor until the tips of their noses were actually touching.
” I know you have some fancy fucking degree from some fancy fucking art school but I am paying you to paint the zits off whores before they get gang banged by the college basketball team not create next Moaning Lisa,” Max hissed as he shoved Patrick back across the room.
His hip bumped the side of the battered desk, spilling the contents of his makeup cases on the floor. With a sigh, he turned and began the process of putting things back in order. He had to hurry and get set up again. His next canvas would likely show up any second.