It was a front page headline. An art work had sold for two million dollars - a Randal, a genuine Randal. Entered anonymously in the city art competition it hadn't fooled the critics. Their verdict was unanimous; it was, no doubt, a Randal.
“A brilliant splash of orange lights up the canvas,” gushed an art connoisseur. “In true Randal style its message is understated, drawing the eye compellingly to its glowing shape. The splash looks deceptively casual in its placement, yet sheer genius has placed it just so.”
Back at the Randals' place Sonya and Toby roared with laughter as they realised their amazing luck. They shared a surname with the renowned artist, Rupert Randal, but he was a stranger to them.
Toby screamed it out, “Two million dollars! Do you believe it Sonya?”
“No I don't,” grinned Sonya, “But it's true. And all earned fair and square!”
Sonya was an artist, of sorts. She dabbled with acrylics and sometimes oils, painting the odd still life and portrait, but she had never sold one. She exhibited her work but no-one liked it quite enough to buy one.
One cold rainy day when the family were crankily cooped up in the house, as the children cried boredom and tempers flared, Sonya had a brain-wave.
“Sacrifice a canvas or two and let the children paint.” She set Mandy to work on one and four-year-old Ryan on the other. “That should keep them busy for a while.”
The silence lasted a minute before Ryan declared he had finished. No amount of cajoling would convince him to add more to his painting. A large orange splash of paint adorned his canvas.
“Now you need to sign it,” said Sonya. “Write your name in this corner with this felt pen.” So Ryan painstakingly wrote an 'R', as much of his name as he knew.
“Well done Ryan. Now write another R for Randal,” Sonya told him. He penned another 'R' next to the first.
“Great work. Now come and wash your hands.” Sonya sighed knowing the peace was over.
At six o'clock Toby rushed in from work waving a piece of paper in front of Sonya. “There's an art competition at the city hall next week. You should enter a painting.”
“Mine aren't good enough,” said Sonya. “But our two little artists have been busy today. Come and see what they've done.”
“Yes Daddy, come and see!” chirped Ryan. “See mine, and Mandy's too.” They pulled him into the sun-room.
“I love that big splash,” exclaimed Toby. “Did you do that Ryan? I can see your signature at the bottom. What an artist! And, Mandy, yours looks wonderful! Tell me about it.”
“It's a house with you and Mummy and Ryan inside,” said Mandy.
“Just as I thought,” said Toby. “Hey, I've got a great idea. Why don't we enter these in the competition, as well as one of yours Sonya?”
So three artworks left the house for the competition. According to the rules the artists' signatures were concealed. Hundreds of people filed past the entries before the judges reached their decision. The winner was Ryan's painting, 'The Splash'.
Journalists and photographers gathered as the judges nervously uncovered the signature. When'RR' was revealed a gasp went up. Surely this was a Randal, by the famous Rupert Randal. The judges congratulated themselves for recognising genius. Cameras flashed.
The mayor congratulated the winner in absentia and announced that the paintings were for sale. The auction would begin as soon as the winners had been notified.
Sonya took the call. “Is that the Randal household?” asked a woman's voice. “I'm calling to let you know that 'The Splash' has won first prize in our art competition. It will be auctioned in ten minutes. Could you please come down immediately? Otherwise we'll arrange a phone hook-up so you can listen in.''
“I'll listen in by phone,” answered Sonya, too stunned to say anything more.
The price started at $500 dollars and Sonya gasped. Then it shot up, and up. It was $10,000 dollars and rising. Sonya sat down. It reached a million dollars and she nearly fainted. What would they say when they heard that a four-year-old had painted it?
The price kept rising until the hammer fell at two million dollars. Sonya was speechless. She put the receiver down and giggled and giggled.
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