Of art, expression and feelings


“What are you doing?!” Jacob’s mother’s voice thundered from behind, startling him.

Jacob looked puzzled at his mother and wondered what was her problem. He had been hard at work painting a watercolor crayon masterpiece on his bedroom wall and he was very happy with the results. His little tongue stuck out through the front teeth giving testimony to his tense concentration.

The artwork embodied a contemporary approach to object representation with a strong purple and violet color scheme including an abstract quarter sun and a fluid rainbow as visual metaphors for his emotional experience of enjoying chocolate chip cookies earlier on. The highlight at the top of cloud two enhanced the contrasting gold/purple color scheme and a bold brush stroke accented the crimson hue of the flower petals that reached harmoniously towards the top of the chimney.

Jacob’s mother was tired. She was at the end of a grueling day filled with relatively minor but highly irritating delays and rejections, had sorted no less than five loads of laundry and found out that one of the bills she already thought settled came back to her in its initial form, as if from a parallel universe where the last six months and fifteen very frustrating phone conversations never happened. She usually had a reasonable amount of patience for Jacob’s creative endeavors but this time she couldn’t contain the shock and annoyance at having yet another useless and unplanned task to add to the never ending list.

Jacob took his genuine alarm at his mother’s reaction and turned it up a notch because it never hurts to shield oneself from potential repercussions. Not that he thought he did anything wrong, mind you, but he knew that he couldn’t argue his defense with his mother, who was ALWAYS right. He was a little saddened by the fact that he couldn’t present his commentary on the art piece, which was quite striking. One might rightfully say that if art is not shared then it doesn’t exist. What is the point of expressing oneself if one didn’t have an interested audience?

He would have liked to explain the symbolism of placing the house at the center of the painting, with the curly, gray colored smoke dancing in symmetry with the sun and the verticality of the flower stems counterbalancing the horizontal nature of the two clouds above. Of course the shadow on the cloud opposite the sun required no explaining and he was very proud of himself for creating such a successful visual metaphor.

“I had enough crap today, go to your room!” his mother thundered, forgetting in her exhausted frustration that he was in fact standing right in the middle of it.

She realized the error, but was too tired to laugh about it, which would have been the appropriate response. She just turned around and left, leaving little Jacob feeling heartbroken in a room that was turning darker as the night approached.

Jacob had no tears when she left, too shocked to react immediately, but started sniffling quietly as soon as he was alone. His little temper bubbled over; he threw the pencil box on the floor and then jumped on the bed to cry face down in his pillow.

He will never paint again, he swore to himself. Not ever, ever again! And he will go to bed without dinner, and he would definitely hold his breath till he turned blue! And his mother was SO unfair and she never cared about him at all!

He cried himself to sleep, since it was close to bedtime anyway, and dreamt about huge flowers shading the house with the little square windows in the corners right under the roof. He also played with the little dog he forgot to paint, a creature made of a circle and an oval who ran as fast as it could on the four lines that stood for legs.

He bathed in the little blue stream that was meandering among the giant flowers and jumped over and over on the very elastic grass patch in front of the door. Finally he got tired in his REM state and dove even deeper into a sleep without dreams.

Jacob’s mother, feeling awful, came to his room later to see how he was doing and she found him fast asleep across the bed, with his legs hanging out, tears in his eyes and a smile on his face. She gently turned him, took off his shoes, covered him with a blanket and exited the dark room leaving the door ajar so that a sliver of light from the living room could reach him if he happened to awake during the night.