This is an oldie, but I've been looking through alot of my older portfolio looking for the things that have greatly inspired me in the past. For a while I was really into mixed media painting- this one's got all kinds of paint, pastels, paper, washes, even a feather (dunno why really)
This painting is a process piece I guess- I was in a creative writing class, and we were working on our first prose. The assignment was to re-tell a fairy tale. Easy enough, right? I have a very difficult time in prose, and the night before my story was due, I was totally choked with writer's block. The only thing I could think of was to try to illustrate my story so I would have a visual tone I could pull from- So, at 4am or so before the paper is due, I threw this painting together and finished my story. I'm really happy with the way both turned out, and today I just found the story I had written. This story still resonates very deeply for me. Let me know what you think:
The Call of a Siren
Once upon a time, in a country not terribly unlike our own, a young dreamer inflated his head with vivid thoughts of beauty and love. His father, who was cynical at best, detested his son's whimsical dribble and often punished such talk with violence, or worse, with apathy. As the years dragged on, the boy painfully learned to keep his dreams to himself.
He grew up in a very lonely world, thriving on his silent dreams of love back when the City was dark, musty, and unforgiving. Its towering buildings formed an imposing skyline that felt like a monster lying in wait; gaslights were its eyes and smokestacks were its teeth. Its belly rumbled with the underground while its claws dipped into the mire of the bay. It breathed ash and drank away the lives of those who lived between its shoulders.
The weight of the City forced the boy into a frivolous occupation which required him to run through its vile alleys and treacherous throughways for the benefit of some rich, anonymous employer whom the boy had never met. For a dime an hour, the boy would navigate these arteries in search of his next mark. It was on one of these errands that he found himself in the very teeth of the beast; the smokestacks of the harbor were a veritable maze of decayed industry and carbon caked debris. Here he hoped to find a certain parcel that needed prompt delivery, but the dizzying effects of the old factory smog clouded his mind. As he stumbled over gullies, his vision began to blur. He felt as if he was pulling his feet through a bog when suddenly, a light shone down around him.
The mist lifted from his eyes when he heard her sing. It was like nothing he'd ever heard before; it dripped from the sky and poured upon him like droplets of silver. Entranced, he followed the song to its source, a modified smokestack with a window. With his hand upon the tower's rusty steel, the boy fell to his knees and wept the beauty of her song.
"What Siren is this, who sings so exquisitely in the mouth of the Beast? Surely, she must be an angel, or maybe a fairy meant to quell my troubled heart with her sweet lullaby." The boy's soul quaked as he listened to her aria. Her voice made the City melt away, it parted the clouds of smog and evaporated the pervasive dampness of the harbor mire. Suddenly desperate to ascend the tower and discover its musical source, the boy ran laps around it, searching for a way up. There was no sign of a door and the metal was smooth and coated with slime.
"There is no path to reach my love and there is nothing left for me without her," the boy felt a wholly new desire within himself; he felt as if he were finally in the right place at the right time, that he had discovered his purpose. The dreams he had fostered through his youth had suddenly become a very tangible reality; his heart swelled with true love for his songstress.
"Do not stop singing, or my heart shall stop beating!" he cried out to her over the vast vertical distance between them, "I will come to you, and I will love you always."
Her voice never faltered as the boy gathered surrounding rubble and began to build a pile. Industrial detritus was abundant in this abandoned pier, though it was laborious to stack it upon itself. He worked long into the night pushing pipes against the tower, throwing crates upon that and securing the whole construction with rope. Hunks of brick from rotten buildings were brought to fill the gaps. He paused just long enough to eat, though he could never sleep for fear of missing one moment of her precious singing.
Night turned to day, and then day to night. Weeks passed, then months as the boy worked tirelessly at his hill, coming closer to the window each day.
"Muse, my love for you is endless and my heart for you is pure. Soon I will save you from this desolation and bring you into my warm arms, and you shall remain there forever."
Her perfect song lured him on, and when she was silent her voice carried on in his heart so that he never forgot those perfect silver droplets of beauty. The boy's hill soon became a mountain leaning against the smokestack's steel. Each day he would ascend it using a complex path, which only he could remember, for fear of being beaten to his prize. As he drew nearer to the window, the melody of his love grew ever clearer; it flowed over him like silk and warmed him on even the coldest days.
On one of those cold, foggy days, the boy's heroic perseverance finally reached its climax; he was but steps away from the window. His pulse thumped madly as the singing grew louder. The boy, mad with anticipation, scrambled over the final few feet of debris and wildly clutched the windowsill. He lifted his tired body inside and fell to the floor like the bricks he had so lovingly stacked.
The room was ornate and exquisitely decorated with the finest cloth, most exotic furniture, and all the rare wonders of the world. Idols from Africa, suits of armor from Europe, scrolls of paintings from Asia, carved reliefs from the Americas; the decadent room seemed like a Baroque museum.
Amidst the priceless clutter stood a goddess of impossible beauty; her silken hair was black as the night, her skin was white as snow, her lips red as blood, and her eyes a perfect ashen blue.
"Who now has the tenacity to intrude upon my quarters? Who do you think you are?" the woman interrogated, her arms crossed.
The boy fell to his knees, overcome by her beauty and commanding presence, "I heard your voice from the ground and have fallen madly in love. You are my Muse! You are my inspiration, my only light in this desolate place. I have built an escape for you, my love. Please, come with me and live in happiness!"
The woman scoffed at his groveling, "Happiness? On the ground? There is nothing for me there."
"I am there for you."
"You are nothing."
"But I have done so much for you-"
"You do not know me," the woman interrupted, "How can you love a stranger? You ignorant fool."
The boy's heart dropped to his stomach, his eyes welled with tears, "Who put you here? Have you no outlet?"
The woman poured a glass of wine. "I built this room for myself, to keep my things, and to keep myself away from rodents like you," she waved her arm across her grand gallery, "I have seen the world, and I have seen what comes of it. I prefer my solitary comfort over the tribulations of you grounded Men. You wallow in your wickedness while I delight in the simplicity of my existence here. Too long did I wander the wastes of your world. I have lain claim to its treasures, I have absorbed all its knowledge, and the rest is not worth its trouble. Now be gone, and do not consider return."
The coldness in her voice ran through him like a sword. It had been warm for so long…"If you do not want me, then why did you sing to me? Day and night I lived on your voice, on the dream of saving you from this tower-"
"I sing for myself, and I do not need rescuing. I will not ask you again," she pointed to the window.
The boy, utterly broken, carried himself to the sill. His body was so heavy now, so tired, so starved. A wave of reality came crashing upon him, and he was left struggling for air in the tide. He crawled back down the way he had come until he was again on the slimy ground. With one final longing gaze, the boy watched as his goddess placed bars over her window. There was no singing. Only fog horns in the distance and the rushing pulse of City's traffic. Bleary from the smog, he stumbled around the pier and found his package, turned, and disappeared back into the Beast.