The Boy Who Could Have What He Drew
Montreal, October 2003
The Boy Who Could Have What he Drew
When he was very young he discovered that everything he painted became real.
It began when his mother bought him his first set of colour pencils from the stationary store. That day, alone in his room, he drew a red race car. When it was done, he concentrated on the sheet of paper, reached into the picture, and pulled the car out. He played with the red race car all day.
As he grew older he got better at using his pencils, drawing all sorts of things for himself. Sometimes he drew candy stores or ice cream parlours, reaching in to the finished picture to eat what ever he wished. Other times he drew people - strangers, pixies, princesses, and sorcerers - then invited them to stay the day and entertain him. He liked to draw butterflies and let them free from the page so that his room would fill up with flying colours.
But the boy was careful to make sure no one else knew what he could do, and always put his creations back into the picture after he was done. His mother's friends would comment: "He's so calm. Why doesn't he ask you for anything?" His mother only shrugged, happy that her son seemed content.
The young boy became a man. By now he had taught himself everything there was to know about drawing and was able to create the most accurate renditions of reality and the most fanciful images from the imagination. His dream was go out into the real world and share, to create for other people. Saying good bye to his mother, he brought a very large canvas and several tubs of paint to the centre of the town in which he lived, and began to paint.
A small boy stopped to watch. "What are you drawing?" he asked.
"Oh, anything that comes to mind."
"I'd like to stay, but I have to go buy some apples for my mother," said the boy.
"Wait," said the painter. And he painted the small boy some apples.
"Go ahead, take them. It'll save you a trip to the grocer."
The fruit looked so real and delicious to the boy that he quickly reached for one. To his amazement his hand touched an apple, and not the canvas. He grabbed the whole bunch, dropped them into his bag, and without a word ran out of the square.
An old man sat down on a bench near the painter and watched him work. "Do you draw women?" he asked.
"Yes, I draw women," the painter replied, and he made a beautiful middle-aged woman in a blue silk dress. The old man stood up and walked close to the canvas.
"Its almost as if she was real," he said, then reached out to touch the canvas. "But she is real!" he whispered, his face turning white. The artist smiled.
"Go ahead, take her out of the canvas."
The old man touched the lady's hand, then slowly pulled her into the square. They started to talk shyly together, and forgetting the painter, walked down the street holding hands.
Soon a small crowd surrounded the painter and his canvas.
"Is it true everything you paint becomes real?" asked one. "Paint me a horse," asked another, and soon everyone was asking the painter to draw something. The painter's brush began to move across the canvas as he painted what the people asked of him. A horse emerged, several dogs, a bed of flowers, towering cakes, opulent jewels, sharp swords, and ruby-red wine. The word quickly spread around town and the crowd grew. The painter began to tire, but still the crowd begged him to paint on. He painted through the hot afternoon and into the evening, all sorts of creations emerging from his canvas. Fights erupted among the spectators as some complained that others had stepping ahead in line. Many who had already received something from the painter's canvas went back into the line, eager for more. Night fell and the square filled up with hundreds of loud and rowdy onlookers.
"But what are you doing with my creations?" the painter suddenly asked, looking away from his canvas for the first time. To his left he saw a group of men surrounding a princess he had drawn, pulling at her clothes and hair. Others had gathered in groups to trade the gems and jewels he had painted, and in the dark alleys thieves threatened each other with the swords he'd created for them. On the ground his flowers lay discarded, trampled by the spectators.
"Bring them back here," he cried, "let me return them to the painting." But no one listened. Instead they pushed the painter back towards his canvas.
"Keep on painting what we want," they threatened, "or we'll do worse to you and your creations."
Tears came to the painters eyes. He begged them to stop. But the crowd ignored his entreaties. "Paint!" they shouted. Taking his last glance at the square, the painter jumped into the colourful canvas he'd created for the town's folk. The crowd gasped. They tried in desperation to reach in and grab him, but the canvas had changed. With the departure of the painter, it was no longer a special canvas that allowed one to reach in and take, but was now like all other canvases. Each of the painter's creations evaporated - the swords, the pixies, the flowers, the cakes, and the jewels. All that remained was the artist himself, silently staring back at the crowd from his place on the canvas. The crowd grieved the painter's sacrifice that night. They took the canvas and hung it up in the square, and to this day it hangs there, serving as a memory to all those who walk by. His own sacrifice, I've heard some say, was surely the painter's greatest creation.
Leave a comment
Thu Aug 5 15:12:58 2004 from
i'm all choked up....
Tue Nov 1 22:12:09 2005 from
rahul murthy <
amazing, it was truly awsome