The Story and You: The Artist’s Mystery

“Respect” is one of the key words from our wonderful year of toy photography. Reading the results of our amazing collaborative project, I think the participants’ work deserves great respect.

“The Story and You” showed different sides of participating toy photographers’ talents, their inspiration and various cultural branches that influenced their inner artistic world. I really enjoy our cultural fest!

And the mysteries continue. Dear Teddi invited me to begin a new story so we could write two different versions of the ending with illustrations. It’s time for an artist’s tale!

The Portrait

James, a young painter, stopped to look at the small picture shop. His old cloak identified him as a man devoted to his art with no time to trouble himself about his clothes. He silently smiled at all the dirty oil paintings. “Who needs those monotone landscapes and cold faces? The same colors, the same style, the same hand, belonging to a machine rather than to a man!”

“I will see if there is anything for me…”

The painter had heard stories about pictures by great masters turning up among the rubbish of cheap stores. He started his search among some old family portraits, whose subjects’ descendants, probably, could not be found on Earth. Finally, the vendor noticed there was a customer in his shop. “Well, friend, have you chosen anything?” he asked. The painter had already been standing motionless for some time before a portrait in a large and magnificent frame.

It represented a strange person with a thin, bronzed face and high cheek-bones. The features were apparently depicted in a moment of convulsive agitation. This person wore a flowing Asiatic costume. The eyes were the most remarkable detail: They fairly gazed out of the portrait, destroying its harmony with their strange liveliness. The portrait was looking. Looking… James had an unpleasant feeling, inexplicable even to himself, but he saw the work of a great artist in this dusty and defaced painting.

James feels fear in his room

Unexpectedly, James found himself buying the old portrait, and at the same time thought, “Why have I bought it?” Walking in the direction of his poor studio, James realized he had given his last coin for the painting, and his thoughts became gloomy. He entered his dark and cold room and placed the portrait on the floor.

Young James was a talented artist with great promise. “Look here, my friend,” his professor said to him more than once, “It would be a shame if you waste your artistic ability. Have a care! It’s seductive to paint fashionable little pictures for money, but talent is ruined, not developed, that way. Be patient. Develop your taste!” Now James thought about these conversations with vexation. “Yes, it’s all very well to be patient. Be patient!” he exclaimed. “But what money have I to buy a dinner with tomorrow? Who would prefer my sketches to the portraits by any of the fashionable artists? I could shine as brightly as the rest instead of continuing to study art, and I’d have money, too, like them.”

The artist suddenly shuddered and turned pale. A convulsively distorted face gazed at him, peeping from the surrounding canvas. Two terrible eyes fixed straight upon him—on the mouth was written a menacing command of silence. But the sensation of fear died away in a moment. It was the portrait he had bought and which he had quite forgotten. Moonlight had fallen upon it, and brought its strange likeness to life.

James instantly felt terrible sitting alone in the room…

Ann @Miss_Feklista

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