Oct 2009

Chapter 2Visual hunt

It had occurred to me that Amy was not her usual cheerful self lately. It was hard to tell as she was less and less to be found here. I had the feeling that she didn't look at me like she did before anymore. While she still often slept next to me, her heart didn't seem to be in it in the same way. Not that she didn't love me, but it was more like a brother than a lover. Probably my nice-guy syndrome kicking in. That, or she had other things on her mind.

I, however, was doing well. My paintings and designs were in high enough demand to live comfortably. It wasn't that I had tons of money, but I could usually go out for dinner if I wanted to without having to think about how much month I had left. Not that I did that a lot, but it was a decent indication for my mind.

My clients differed somewhat. From punk bands that just wanted an original CD-cover, to older gentleman that liked the style of my paintings. To my surprise there was not much female interest in my work, but it wasn't like I had a lack of that in my life.

Speaking of women, Nuru had found a boyfriend. She'd adjusted very nicely in the past few years and found a nice guy that looked open-minded enough to deal with her oddities and warm enough to love her. I'd seen less of her at times, but she still often came back to help me with painting. She really adored to go out with me to buy canvasses, paper and paint. She had tried to paint herself, but didn't like it very much. Some of her nightmares came out at those times and she preferred not to let them. Instead she'd decided to write her own diary. And, in typical girl fashion, never let anyone see it.

Anyway, I think my interesting bit began with one of the older gentleman interested in my work. I'd seen many houses (when I delivered my work, I liked to see where 'my children' would go), and could appreciate the many fine tastes this man appeared to have. It was slightly off the center, in a large old mansion that must have been built hundreds of years ago. Many restorations, repairs and repaints had turned it into a marvel of the days of old that, if his words were to be believed, was now even on a city monuments list.

The gentleman in question was slightly on the odd side, though. Silver hair, gray and very healthy, but not that many lines in his face. And eyes that were a strong mix of green and light brown that seemed to shimmer in any light. If it wasn't for his hair he could have easily been seen as a decent looking man in his forties. However, he had something feral about him. A wildness that was a little reflected in his house in the form of hunting trophies.

Strangely enough he didn't like to have whole heads on his wall, but instead chose species defining attributes to be displayed. Like the horn of a rhino, or the claws of a cheetah. Like him, it was like the wilderness in his house was present but deftly hidden in plain sight. He had seemed very pleased that I'd noticed the small details. He became a friend, of sorts.

Now, I rarely, if ever, do full paintings on commission. I usually have plenty of dreams or other inspirations in me and find it difficult enough to get them all down so I limit requested designs to much smaller areas. Some books, DVD- or CD-inlays and likewise material. Even a poster on occasion, but only if they don't want a lot of detail. But, as implied, has asked me to do one that I happily agreed to.

The deal was that he would tell me a tale of his hunt and I was to paint a picture that, in my opinion, would represent that hunt. But I was allowed full freedom in what I actually depicted. In fact, he would prefer it if I didn't paint something too obvious.

A nice and interesting challenge I could not resist.

So, there I sat, listening to him. His words a cavalcade of details. The forest around him, the creature he was hunting, the sweat on his brow, the knife in his hand. The beast he was hunting for was often underestimated. Strong, wild, surprisingly fast. A boar. He'd been tracking one for a few days, noting his kills, finding the remains and where the creature slept. He even told me of how he slept, the precautions he took. I listened almost without breathing. While normally a tale of the hunt would interest me little, his respect for the animal, even in his final moments, was fantastic. Like was his custom, he stayed in the forest to prepare the animal for food. Making a fire, roasting some of the meat, smoking others and taking the boar's teeth and incisors separately. He left the rest of the remains deep in the forest on purpose, for the next step in the circle.

All of this in his warm, old voice.

I promised him I would paint something that only he, or anyone who'd heard the tale, would recognize. In my head the vividness of the image already pushing me to pick up something to paint with. I had no regret of my decision to do this painting for him. I really wanted to try if I could make a representation of his spirit of the hunt. We parted soon after and I returned to my house finding it empty. Nuru was probably with her boyfriend again and in this early evening, who knew where Amy had gone to.

So I started to paint.

First the base, both dark and light. Forest and sky complementing each other. Then layers of trees, bushes, branches, leaves. It all came naturally. Each move of my brush as it had to be. His words had truly inspired me, lit a rare fire of visual clarity that I lived for. Normally a painting would start without a clear idea of the end, I'd just go along for the ride, but this time, I knew how it must be. And every step verified it. The opening, the place of the hunt, but not the hunt itself. I knew how it looked, each stone, each blade of grass. And then, the hunter.

I couldn't paint him, that wouldn't make sense. Something else I had to paint, visualize. And I already knew what it was. With light colors and soft shadows, I drew a shape that had just killed. Gnawing on the bones of his victory. It all made sense in my head, it was so clear, vivid. There was no campfire, almost no light, just the rays of the sun creeping through the branches. The fur lit up in patches, some blood but only on the front paws.

Eyes, yellow and gleaming. What I'd painted, the hunter of this painting, was a strong white wolf. Fur tinted yellow only by the sun. No with rage in his eyes, but a sort of understanding. It wasn't anger, hate, greed, desire or suffering that had set him to kill. It was only and purely the hunt with all the respects of nature itself. No pride, not even a glance. Just the hint of satisfaction of things having been done as they should have been.

I almost fell over of tiredness when I'd finished. It was already morning, sun touching the paint, Amy hadn't returned. But it worried me little. I trusted her to take care of herself. With my last yawning moments, I hung a soft cloth over the canvas and closed the windows. Like a zombie I headed to bed and I could swear I was already asleep before my head hit the pillow.

My visual hunt, completely satisfied.