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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