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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "It's No Use Crying over Spilt Milk" (without using the actual phrase or literal exampl (02/07/08)

TITLE: The Artist's Palette
By Debbie Roome


I blended the colours on my palette; a mingling of crimson, burnt-umber and smoky-orange. What a joy it was to be painting again, releasing the pictures that budded within. Pictures that God birthed in my heart. It mattered little that my studio was our spare room and my companion, a three year old boy. I felt fulfilled and complete as I added smudges of paint. As the smudges formed vibrant wildflowers peeping from boulders of charcoal, iron and slate. It wasn’t a masterpiece but I was almost satisfied. Almost, as the waterfall cascading over the rocks was missing something. A certain sparkle of life. The right shade of effervescence to portray drops dancing on a summer’s day. I squeezed tiny dabs of paint onto the palette. Cerulean, ultramarine and pearlescent white and swirled them into various hues.

“Mommy.” Cameron had lost interest in his building blocks and tugged at my jeans. “Please can I have some juice?”

“In a moment, Sweetheart. Mommy just needs to finish mixing this colour.”

I squeezed out a little more paint, adding a smidgeon of silver but still it wasn’t right.

“I want juice, Mommy.”

Just then the phone rang and Cameron followed me into the kitchen.

“Hey Katy. You’ll never guess what I found at the mall.”

I covered the receiver with my hand. “It’s nap time.” I whispered to Cameron. “Go and lie on your bed and I’ll bring you some juice in a minute.”

A half hour later, I ended the call, feeling a little guilty for neglecting my son.

I found him in the spare room, eyes wide with fear as he took in my expression. On the palette were worms of paint; slugs of shimmering gold, turquoise and terracotta, dribbles of chocolate, moss and salmon and coils of sienna, cobalt and magenta. Most of the tubes were empty and the colours were oozing into an oily mess.

“Cameron James Carmichael! What in the world do you think you are doing?”

His face crumpled as I dragged him off to the bathroom. “I wanted to help you, Mommy. I thought if I mixed your colours then you would have time to get my juice.” He dragged a pudgy fist across his face smearing it with tracks of sunshine-yellow and vivid-scarlet. “I tried to squeeze them gently. I really did but all the paint kept coming out. Then I tried to push it back in but it wouldn’t go.”

An hour later he was tucked up for his nap and I lay on the couch in the lounge. I knew I shouldn’t be angry but I was. The paints had been my birthday present, a gift from my husband and now they were gone, wasted. I wanted to scream and shout and rant and rave. I couldn’t think, couldn’t pray. I couldn’t even bear to go and clean up the mess.

Eventually, I called my mother. “I don’t know what to do, Mom. I’m mad with Cameron, mad with myself and all I can think about is the mess and the wasted paint.”

She was calm and understanding as I knew she would be. “These things happen, Katy. What’s important is how you handle them. Look at it this way; on the large scale of life, is this worth stressing about or is it something you’ll laugh about in years to come?” She prayed with me then. Asked God to help me in my struggles and strengthen me as I put aside my guilt and anger.

With a kernel of peace blossoming inside, I gathered some plastic bags and cloths and prepared for the big clean-up. What was done was done and I had to accept it.

The paint had spread into a tacky mess, a congealed soup of pearls and metallics mixed with muted tones of earth. I was about to scrape it from the palette when I saw it. A tiny patch the colour of diamonds splashed on water, the purest shade of drops, dancing on a summer’s day..

Wonder spread into my heart, washing out the last vestiges of anger and rage. “Thank you, God.” I whispered as I dipped my brush into the paint and added the finishing touches to the canvas. “Thank you for helping me through this.”

I’d just finished when Cameron appeared at the doorway, eyes sleepy, expression troubled. I opened my arms wide. “Come here, Cammy. I’ve got something very special to show you.”

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This article has been read 929 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Holly Westefeld02/14/08
This is a sweet story, and I'm glad the mom found the silver lining.
A rather precocious three-year-old, perhaps?
Beth LaBuff 02/14/08
You must be an artist...your color descriptions are beautiful in this heart-warming story. Your illustration of the topic is perfect as is your ending.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/15/08
I love the description in this sweet story. The first paragraph is especially beautiful.
Patty Wysong02/15/08
Oh, this is absolutely wonderful! It's realistic and beautiful with nuggests of truth tucked in there and tied up with the perfect ending. Superb!
Joanne Sher 02/16/08
Lovely and beautiful in so many ways. Excellent.
Betty Castleberry02/16/08
Aww, I like this. I can relate to your MC. What mom hasn't been spitting mad at their child for getting into something? Great ending.
Melissa Kummerow02/16/08
This is so beautiful.
Dee Yoder 02/18/08
Awww...poor child and poor Mom. The ending is so sweet and your characters have such heart written into them. Lovely.
LauraLee Shaw02/19/08
This is an absolutely moving and authentic piece. Realistic in every way.

With a kernel of peace blossoming inside, I gathered some plastic bags and cloths and prepared for the big clean-up. What was done was done and I had to accept it.

Way to say it! LOVE it.
Jan Ackerson 02/19/08
My favorite bit in this wonderful story is the paragraph describing the "worms of paint"--that whole paragraph is simply outstanding!
Jacquelyn Horne02/19/08
Very good example. Very on topic. A wise mother.
Lynda Schultz 02/19/08
God blesses even the messes! Very good.
Laury Hubrich 02/20/08
Loved this story. Also loved this little boy who was only trying to be helpful:)
Sara Harricharan 02/20/08
You captured the colors here. I love colors. You used the names and the descriptions for them. I didn't see the end coming, I thought that she'd find that he squirted all the paints on himself instead of on her picture, but the ending showed hope and I'm glad she didn't get angry at him. This was darling. Nice job. ^_^
Sally Hanan02/20/08
This was a beautiful story. I don't know if your periods were placed on purpose throughout your story, but semi-colons would be far better to maintain the flow. Otherwise, this was precious.
Peter Stone02/20/08
LOL, what a great story--what is it about mothers on the phone that kids automatically say - "Time to get away with anything!"
But can I ask, are you writing about my daughter? At three she grabbed my wife's brand new, very expensive make-up set, and used it all up while painting the most amazing picture on the linen cupboard door--while mummy was on the phone, of course.