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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)

TITLE: Only a Tool
By Ruth Neilson


It was another day of business for the Chaim Art Gallery. The owner and resident painter, Ajax, smiled as he surveyed the canvas that lined the walls—each one different in style, technique, and color. Ajax nodded to his assistant and then, carefully measuring his steps; he approached the glass door and flipped the cardboard sign over from ‘closed’ to ‘open.’ He then went to his seat in the corner where he could observe and paint.

It was an honor for the Chaim Art Gallery to have the painter in the gallery. Ajax normally set up outside in the park or on the street corner, always with the same excuse, “I gain my inspiration from the people!” And he did. There were no arguments about how popular his artwork was, despite how abstract they would become.

The bell on the door tinkled as the first patron of the day entered.

Ajax smiled as he positioned his brush over the blank canvas. He heard his assistant cheerfully greet the visitor.

“Is it true that the artist who painted all of these pieces is here today?”

“He is.”

“May I watch him work? I’m a student...”

Ajax listened quietly as he continued to paint. The young woman’s voice betrayed her true nature. His picture was becoming darker in nature with flecks of green and gold woven into darker colors. He nodded as he stood up. The paint needed to dry before he could finish.

“I’ll gladly talk to our guest, Shari.”

Ajax smiled as he felt the girl’s eyes taking everything in.

“I’m not what you expected, am I?”

“Not really—I wasn’t expecting such work from...”

“Someone who is blind.”

“Yes sir...but how can you paint such works if you can’t see?”

Ajax smiled widely and gestured towards his work area. “For me, blindness is a blessing. You see with your eyes and capture images that you see. I see with my heart. And God has blessed me with the ability to paint with my heart.”

He paused in front of the slowly drying canvas. “I paint people’s souls. Each piece of art that you see here in the gallery is a captured image of a person’s soul in a moment of time. This one, like you, is dark and filled with envy and greed.”

The young woman was speechless and Ajax drew in a deep breath. “Come, I want to show you one other painting before you go and tell your professor that I’m a local nutcase.”

A whisper of clothing followed him as he moved to a darkened corner. Shari had questioned his decision of hanging his masterpiece in a darkened corner until he had turned on the fluorescent light.

“It’s nothing more than a blank canvas, how can this be your famed masterpiece?” the teen asked.

Ajax smiled gently. “Because, I painted the Master Painter’s heart. Just study it for a few minutes.”

Without another word, he flipped the light switch and listened to the student gasp. “I...I can’t believe this...how...”

“It’s different for each person. I am nothing more than the tools in the Master Artist’s hands.”

He smiled as he retreated to his corner. The student seemed to be awestruck by the painting. Most people were if their hearts were soft. The paint was still wet to the touch.

“Come back tomorrow...and you can have this painting—to remind you of where you came from.”

“Yes, sir...”

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This article has been read 697 times
Member Comments
Member Date
dub W01/28/07
I liked this. An editor might make some changes and fix some things, but this story has an overriding tone which like the white canvas brings out a meaning for each who see (read) the words.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/28/07
A nice story, but I'm not quite sure if I "get" the ending. Perhaps I'm dense, but I'll ponder this some more. Good job.
Sharlyn Guthrie01/28/07
I really enjoyed the descriptions in your story, and you kept me engaged right to the end, but I didn't understand the ending, either. Maybe my heart just isn't soft enough to see it?!
Joanne Sher 01/28/07
Great dialogue - and I love the idea of painting with the heart AND of the "hidden" painting of Christ's heart. Wonderful.
Jan Ackerson 01/29/07
I'd love to see this one doubled in length, so you could draw out the ending a bit more. The beginning was perfect, very intriguing, and I wanted to hear more from the painted once we discover his blindness.
Patty Wysong01/29/07
I really enjoyed this and loved how Ajax saw himself as only a tool in the Master's hand. I could sense from the beginning of the story that he truly seeing with his heart.
Kathleen Morris01/29/07
I think it's great. You have good story telling skills. Keep writing!