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It’s been so long! But I have another story, inspired by Steph’s trusty Bekindrewrite site. Of the prompts available Sketchy Artist struck a chord …

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“This is the life, Samuel.” Joshua Fortesque stood back from the easel and puffed contentedly on his bent briar. “The greens in spring are so fresh.”Monet

“Well you’ve certainly captured the essence of the scene.” Sam Smythe took a pace back from the billowing tobacco smoke. He considered carefully the colours and shapes daubed on the canvas. “Tell me, Joshua, how long have you painted abstracts?”

“Samuel, please. It is after Monet’s impressionist style,” he huffed. Sam considered it carefully for some moments before replying.

“Do people really like this stuff?” He dodged another cloud from the briar. “Would they sell if we could produce them ‘en masse’?”

“I’m sure they would, if I could paint fast enough.” Joshua chuckled at the thought. He watched Sam, deep in thought, wander back towards the workshop.

The late afternoon sun dipped behind the trees and Joshua packed away his paints and easel, and headed off to the workshop, trailing pipe smoke in his wake. He pushed open the door and peeked round the edge to see what Sam was up to.

“Just in time, old boy!” Sam’s brown dust coat was splattered in every colour available in Joshua’s pallet. “What do you think of this?”

On the bench was a wooden frame, and in it was what appeared to be a large stencil. It looked like an old silk shirt was stretched across it, too.

Joshua pocketed his pipe and went in.

The bench was scattered with jars and dishes of paints mixed to different consistencies, some almost like water, others like thick cream. Propped against the walls and cupboards were boards covered in paint; some colours fixed to the surface, others dribbled down and pooled on the floor.

“I’m nearly there! The theory is good!” As usual Sam’s enthusiasm for concocting machines to do man’s work blinded him to any impracticalities. “Out there you were dabbing on your colours here and there – bit of yellow, bit of blue – making a greeny colour.” He pointed to the canvas Joshua carried. “Not very efficient I thought.”

“It isn’t supposed to be efficient – it’s artistic – a pleasure, to be consumed slowly, and savoured.” Joshua assumed the haughty air of one who knows, unlike an engineer who just wouldn’t understand.

“Yes, yes. I know all that.” Sam waved the idea away. “With this machine I can replicate your art quicker, and more easily, by applying the individual colours one at a time to the whole picture in one swipe – look!”

He mixed paints, sloshed them into the frame, dragging a rubber blade across each time he changed colour. He swapped the stencils around, too. After ten minutes frenzied activity he held up a board for Joshua to see.

“I get the idea.” A faint wisp of smoke rose from his pocket. “The blending of the primary colours is producing the secondaries. I’m sure this can work, I’m warming to it.”

“Will you work with me on developing it, Joshua?” Sam paused and sniffed. “I’ll need your arty advice to get the colours just right – what’s that smell? Something burning?”

The pocket on Joshua’s jacket now had a black patch, just beginning to glow red. Joshua flapped his hand at it, but before it became a conflagration Sam grabbed a pot of water, with paint brushes still propped up in it, and drenched the seat of the fire.

“It’s best you only bring your pipe when we are working ‘en pleine air ‘methinks.” Sam covered his mouth in a failed effort to subdue his laugh.

Joshua turned and left the workshop, “My favourite tweed, y’know … and I suppose that’s my shirt in your infernal machine.”

***

© K Patrick Moody, 2016

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