By Shannon Magura.
This piece is a short work of fiction that appeared in our June 2017 SENGVine.
Paint cans lined along the wall, any color you could imagine. Aero, Alabaster, Folly, Flax. Wide varieties, like an endless rainbow of beautiful unique colors. And, believe it or not, they weren’t used for picture painting, or for finger painting, not even for wall painting. Technically, they were for face painting. But not for the type of face painting you would expect. I would almost call it, reverse face painting.
Painter Gustave Pissaro’s job was to paint each and every child’s face that was born. Meaning, he designed their actual face! From the inside of the head, he would grab his special paint brush, and personally design every single feature on that person’s face. From the tiniest freckle, to the most detailed nose, it was all his work of art! So, now my actual story begins, where I tell you all about Painter Gustave Pissaro, and his assistant, Artist Andre Buchere. And how everyone makes mistakes, but only certain people have the power to see the perfections in them.
“I have the paint you were asking for, Painter Gustave Pissaro!”
From the door, Artist Andre Bouchere brings in at least 20 different cans of paint. Painter Gustave Pissaro is mumbling to himself, “So little time, so much to do. The doctors are expecting this girl in 2 days, I can’t let these people down….” Painter Gustave was a pretty organized and good guy, and he rarely was stressed like this.
“Sir, I have the paint you asked for. Don’t fret about it, just take a few deep breaths and don’t let the stress affect your painting.”
Painter Gustave turns around. “Oh, thank the Lord you are here, I was starting to get a bit worried. I need to start this face pronto.” Painter Gustave Pissaro picked up his magic paintbrush, and started opening the paint cans.
Artist Bouchere came over and started helping, mixing the paint well with each opening. As soon as that was done, Painter Pissaro got straight to painting, while Artist Bochere sat back and watched, taking in everything.
Painter Pissaro had a special way of painting. He started from the chin, then moved his way all the way up to the forehead. On this girl, he decided to put a lot of freckles. He chose dark tan paint and put tons of dainty dots on the girl’s chin. Next was the mouth, so he dipped his paintbrush in the strawberry lemonade color and made two thin lips. Then he rinsed off the brush and dipped it in white. He moved on to the nose, which had more than it’s fair share of freckles on it. For the nose color, he decided it to be a beige color, and he made the rest of the skin that color as well.
Now, for the hardest part of any face, the eyes.
He never knew what color to make them, or what shape. For the eyes, he wanted to make them like an endless swirl of greens and blues. A tunnel of beautiful spirals, swirling into a never ending ocean of thoughts and ideas.
So, he brought out his palette, and started mixing together every shade of blue and green he could find. Painter Gustave Pissaro blended together jade, emerald, mint, olive, azure, cyan, teal, indigo. Until he was pleased with the masterpiece he had made, then he made the outline of the eyes with black paint, and then painted the eyelids the same beige color as the nose.
Now for the tricky part, the actual eyes. First he had to make the whites of the eyes, so he drew a hollow black circle in the middle of the eye shape, and painted the outside of that white.
Next, he took his mixture of green and blue, and painted that in the inside of the circle. It was so alluring, that even Artist Andre Bouchere turned around from his work, and stood in marvel, staring at the eyes. They were hypnotizing, and when Artist Andre Bouchere saw them, he knew this girl would be beautiful. More beautiful than anyone, not because of the way her eyes looked, but because of what they held in them….. They held a future, and a bright one at that.
Painter Pissaro turned around to rinse off his paintbrush, and dipped it in the black paint to make the pupil. He repeated that process for both eyes.
After he finished the eyes, he started the eyebrows. At this point, it was really late in the day, and he needed to get this face done by tomorrow morning. As hard as he tried, he still felt rushed, and he when he got rushed, he made BIG mistakes.
“Please sir, don’t worry. I will help you finish the face by tomorrow and everything will be okay. Just relax, we don’t need you making a fatal mistake.” So Artist Andre picked up a brush and dipped it into the dark tan paint and started to paint the left eyebrow when he was interrupted by Painter Pissaro.
“Artist Bouchere, please, just let me deal with this. I am the skilled painter here, and I am positive if you would just let me do it by myself, it would definitely be better.”
“Sir, you can’t do this by yourself anymore. It’s too much on you, and you’re clearly getting overwhelmed. Just let me help you, I am fully capable.”
“Thank you very much, but I demand you to go sit down at your desk.”
So, Artist Bouchere walked to his desk and sat down, following Painter Pissaro’s orders.
He knew something was going to go wrong, somewhere along the line. If only Painter Gustave would let him help once in awhile….
Back to the painting though, Painter Gustave picked up Artist Bouchere’s paintbrush and started finishing the left eyebrow, when he realized he needed more paint. He turned around and dipped the brush in the dark tan paint. Painter Pissaro turned back around and took a few steps forward, with each step, he thought about how little time he had left, and how he was going to let these innocent people down. With all these thoughts in his head, he wasn’t thinking straight. He tripped on the last step, his paintbrush landed on the eyebrow.
And here’s where the big mistake Artist Andre was predicting comes in. He wasn’t able to stop himself from falling, so Painter Pissaro and his paintbrush went tumbling to the floor.
As this all happened, Artist Bouchere just left the room, knowing that right now, it was just better to give Painter Pissaro his space.
Meanwhile, Painter Pissaro got up and looked at the face. “Oh what have I done. I’ve ruined it, I…..I….I…”
The left eyebrow was dragged downward, noticeably downward. He had no choice but to just sit there in awe, and look at the mess he’d made.
Painter Pissaro knew Artist Bouchere was right. He had been right all along. “If only I would’ve let him help me, then this all wouldn’t of happened.”
You see, you may be thinking that he could just wipe it off, or try to fix it. But once the paint touches the face of a child, it’s permanently there. There’s no turning back once that paint brush hits the face. This is why the two artists jobs were so hard.
There was a lot of pressure on you, and you had to know how to deal with it. Painter Pissaro was good at this most of the time, but now was when it hit him. He realized just how big of a mistake he had made, and he gave up…. Right then and there, he gave up all hope for that face.
He went to his office, pulled the blinds, turned off the lights, shut the door, and went to sleep.
Artist Andre walked through the main door, and saw the girl’s face. He’d admit that the first thing that came to his mind was, wow, what happened. But then he looked harder, and then harder and deeper. And what he saw was a perfection. This face was different, unique and bolder than the others that Painter Pissaro made daily.
So, Artist Andre decided he wasn’t going to give up on this face just yet. Two people needed him out there, more now than he would ever know.
So he picked up the brush, and started the other eyebrow. Sure, it was just as downwardy as the other one, but it didn’t matter. Not anymore it didn’t. Because this girl was going to have a disease, and he realized that that was okay, that it didn’t matter what you looked like. It was only the stuff on the inside that mattered.
So once he was finished with the face, he set it on permanent to dry. Now he had to figure out what to call this disease. At first, he couldn’t come up with anything, but then it just came to him. He would call this disease down syndrome.
And this disease was going to occur in many other children because it was a masterpiece that had many lessons in it. It taught you how to love and how to care and how to notice the perfections in things. He made the face a 1/691 chance of happening.
To wrap up the story, I’m going to explain what happened in the future, and a little lesson about what happened in the past. Later that year, Painter Pissaro still wasn’t over the mistake, so Artist Andre Bouchere took over and started painting every face that he could. Later on, Painter Pissaro decided to leave, so Artist Andre was a solo painter. Of course, there were many more down syndrome cases, and Artist Andre even added an extra one in here and there!
Now, for the lesson in the past… Some people can’t see the positive in things, the beauty that really shines through. In this case, that person was Painter Gustave Pissaro. There’s always charm in someone, I’m not saying that it’s going to be on the outside though.
For some people’s case, it is on the outside, but I personally think it’s better on the inside because then it’s truly natural. You’re not sugar-coating what’s underneath, it’s just pure natural grace. And the one that noticed that grace in this story was Artist Andre Bouchere. He didn’t give up, even if the mistake was pretty major. He searched, and found the beauty within.
Shannon Magura, is going to be a 7th grade student at Heinemann Middle School in Algonquin, IL this fall. She enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball, and hanging out with her friends. Her inspiration for this story came from a friend of hers in grade school.