I am an artist.
Each day I walk into my studio, flip on the lights, and stare at blank canvass.
Each day, I grasp hold of inspiration from somewhere: the plant in my window, the tune on the radio in the corner, the smile on my wife’s face when I left the house this morning.
Each day, I pick up my tools and go to work.
Monday, it was a majestic elk, standing poised for flight in a mossy, sunlit forest.
Tuesday, a laughing child, holding a swallowtail butterfly with delicate fingertips.
Wednesday, a shipwreck lying picturesque on the ocean floor, silent, and filled with sea life.
But on Thursday, when I walked into my studio and flipped on the lights, it was different.
I didn’t see the blank canvass this morning, fraught with opportunity. This morning I see all the full canvasses, lining the walls.
The elk. The child. The shipwreck. And dozens of others, in varying stages of completion. I see them this morning, not the blank one.
And though I may be an artist unlike any other, unique in interpretation, style, and detail, I suddenly see through the deception. I’m no different than the rough, eclectic college kid next door, who splatters globs of paint and waves aerosol cans around. No different than the cultured actress who purchased a white canvass with one black dot in the middle for a quarter-million, framed it in gold and called it art. I am a replica. Not an individual.
My eyes strayed to the canvass, the blank one in the center of the room. I see pictures: a refugee, eyes widened with fear; a child lying alone, wrapped in an old blanket on a street corner; an old man standing next to a freshly-dug grave.
My art reflects life. My art takes this world and makes everything in it poetic. But does it count? Does it touch? Is it real?
If I died tomorrow, what would the last picture be? What would my final contribution to humanity look like? An elk standing on a hilltop? Or something deeper?
I let my coat fall to the floor that Thursday morning. And I advanced toward the blank canvass. It was time to change.