Color my World

“If you want an interesting party sometime, combine cocktails and a fresh box of crayons for everyone.” -Robert Fulghum

(My sister is traumatized at losing her favorite crayon.  So this is for her.)


In Owen’s world, navy blue ruled over all.  The other colors were meager pebbles in the mighty ocean of navy blue.

The blue jeans that he wore in his self-portraits were navy blue.  The ocean, the sky, the bird, the mailbox, the rays shooting out of alien spacecraft; they all had to be navy blue.  Even the goldfish.

crayon-clip-art-4T9ERzjTE“But Owen”, his mother would inquire, “why is the goldfish blue?  Shouldn’t it be, just maybe, a little more orangey?”

“Mom”, Owen protested as he rolled his eyes.  “The goldfish is in the blue lake.  That makes it blue.”

“Okay, but why are the rocks at the bottom of the lake grey and the leaves at the bottom green?”

“I’m drawing Mom”, was Owen’s reply.  His mother did not understand his artistic choices.

As it goes with all favored crayons, the navy blue had seen better days.  Even with Owen’s reluctance to share his cherished possession (“No!  You get cyan.  I’m using navy blue.  Use coral or sumthin’.”), the crayon had still lost its point long ago.  What had once been a peak or a point was now worn down to a very obvious nub.  The tip was as blunt and round as Owen’s chubby fingers.  Often, his mother would call him to dinner, interrupting his latest landscape, and find that he had just as much crayon on his hands as on the paper.

The wrapper was torn down to half its original size.  The dozens of other crayons towered above navy blue in their cardboard container.  Yet Owen’s loyalty to his treasured selection remained.

In front of him was his greatest masterpiece.  Owen scribbled in the finishing touches.  A few streaks here or there made their way to the tabletop.  In a flurry, Owen filled in the last blank spot and beamed at his work.  Two blue cars racing in front of a blue sky, around a blue lake as they passed a blue house and approached a blue stoplight.

He wiggled out of his plastic play chair.  The blobs of flesh that covered his legs and arms jiggled as he slid over and stood up.  With his artwork in one hand and his precious crayon in the other, he ran to the kitchen to show his mother.  His chin, tummy, and limbs all jostled and bobbed as he bounded across the carpet.

Then, just before entering the kitchen, an obstacle appeared.  On his over-stuffed pillow (navy blue, of course), Charles Barkley lay sleeping.  His jowls rested on his front paws while his hind legs jutted out.  Barkley knew how to use his massive frame to occupy floor space.  And laps.  And yards.  And the backseats of cars.

dog-sleeping-RcgELQ-clipartOwen had not been running to pet or play fetch.  Owen had been running to encourage art appreciation.  In his zeal, he did not notice Barkley.  But his legs did not miss tripping over the hind legs that were blocking the kitchen doorway.

Part flying, part tripping, and part flying, Owen was flung into the kitchen.  He bounced off of the linoleum, falling short of a wooden chair, and found himself at his mother’s feet.

“You okay?”

Owen nodded, more confused than anything.  He looked at his hands.  His artwork was crumpled, but otherwise fine.  His other works had survived far less.

“Whatchya got there?”  His mother kneeled down, gently took the paper from his fluffy hands, and smiled in appreciation.  “Shall we put this on the fridge with the others?” Owen’s mom pointed to the already cluttered refrigerator door and started searching for a free magnet.

It was then that Owen looked at his hands.  His eyes got wide.  Panic set in.  What should have been his mighty navy blue crayon was now a fragment of its former self.  He looked around and found another chunk of blue a few feet away.  The force of the fall and the surprise of the event had caused his thumb to snap the crayon in half.

Owen’s mom turned back to him and saw him waddle towards the crayon piece.  He very quietly, very slowly, picked up the crayon bit.  He looked at each hand.  First he observed the left one with the crayon still in part of a wrapper.  Then he looked to the right one, stubby on the top, jagged at the bottom.  A confused look loomed large on his furrowed brow.  Back and forth he moved his neck, his eyes getting wider with each turn.

“Sweetie?  It’s only a crayon”, his mother tried to reassure him.  “It will still work fine.”

Owen did not hear his mother’s words.  A thought had entered his mind.  An unbelievable idea.  A notion that changed his world.  The thought swirled and built in his brain.  It burst out of his mouth in a mighty exclamation.

“I have two blue crayons!”

“Why yes”, his mom said with a smile.  “I guess you do.”

“You wanna color with this one?”  Owen offered up what had been the bottom half of his crayon, holding his left open.

“Maybe in a bit”, his mother answered.  “I need to finish this up.  Why don’t you go put that one in a safe place for now?”

“Okay!”  Owen ran back to his coloring table, joyfully plopping the navy blue crayon chunk in its cardboard slot, secure amongst the other crayons in the box.  He then grabbed another piece of paper, more excited than ever about all he could draw with twice the crayon power at his disposal.

Tiptoeing in Glass Heels

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

Tiptoeing in Glass Heels

Feeling important makes one heavy, clumsy, and vain.  To be a warrior one needs to be light and fluid.” -Carlos Castaneda

In almost every aspect, Lynn was the perfect museum employee.  She was interested in the process that an artist took to create a masterpiece.  She had a near encyclopedic memory for an artist’s history and catalog of works.  She even had quite a talent herself for sculpting and painting.  Everyone who came into contact with Lynn walked away knowing that she wanted to share the world of art and her passion for it.  Sadly, due to Lynn’s klutzy nature, people often walked away with stubbed toes or bruises.

Lynn suffered from a shockingly severe case of two left feet.  Whenever she was distracted, pandemonium would inevitably ensue.  She knew she would never be able to join her friends when they went mountain climbing.  She had been banned from a yoga class for gouging two people with her knee caps and knocking other three others in the process.  Knives in her kitchen had to be handled with utmost care.  Even then, Lynn often donned a pair of oven mitts to protect herself from the injuries that anything sharper than a butter knife might inflict.

The older Lynn got, the more she learned that caution was her only salvation.  She knew that taking her time, planning her movements, and generally pausing to establish herself in the environment that she was in were the only ways she could get by without accident.  If she truly focused, she could save on bandages and pain medication.  Such was Lynn’s state of mind when she interviewed at the House of Glass.

As Lynn applied for the position, the realization of what she would be getting herself into never fully registered.   Lynn only knew that she was a woman with a degree in museums and that there were few job openings available in her field.  She sent in her resume and cover letter to any position that was available.  She had been turned down for custodial positions at two different sites because they had felt she was over qualified.  Oddly enough, the only museum that had called her back was the House of Glass.  Lynn knew she could do the job.  She certainly had all the skills that were asked for in the listing.  However, the House of Glass failed to ask during the interview process how Lynn’s physical prowess would hold up under pressure.

It wasn’t until that Lynn pulled up to the visitor parking spot and looked at the main vestibule that she fully understood the predicament she had put herself in.  Her hopes had been raised, the final interview had been scheduled and so Lynn felt that she had no choice but to walk in through the all-glass building and put her best, non-klutzy foot forward.

Maureen, the head of the House of Glass, and Lynn had hit things off smashingly.  They had both graduated from the same program, even mentoring with the same professor.  Maureen liked the ideas that Lynn wanted to implement, and Lynn saw in Maureen someone who would encourage and challenge her at the same time.  However, the challenge of walking around the museum had been rather strong on its own.

Every table seemed to have a tall and delicate centerpiece adorning it.  Lynn cursed her three-inch heels as she tiptoed around each desk.  The reception area was Lynn’s worst nightmare.  All around Lynn were samples of local artists’ works.  Much to Lynn’s dismay, the fragile pink and green flowers nestled next to blue tidal waves were not secured in some elaborate display case.  Instead, they sat on the floor, inviting visitors to get a close-up look.  Lynn felt taunted by the tiny fences that just barely enclosed the labors of love.  They were at the perfect height for her to trip over, but not nearly tall enough to prevent her from falling on the art inside.

Lynn did her best to rise above the challenge.  As she had learned before, she could control herself and her clumsy nature if she could only concentrate.  At the same time, she was incredibly excited about the opportunity in front of her.  It appeared certain that all Lynn had to do was accept the position and it would be hers.  The pieces of art were beautiful, majestically crafted, and they all spoke to her in their own unique voices.  The problem was that for the length of the two-hour interview, the pieces all seemed to scream, “Don’t break me!”

The interview completed where it began.  Once again Lynn found her feet surrounded by tiny masterpieces that all seemed to be asking for her to step on them.  However Maureen took no notice.  She simply smiled, gestured at the House of Glass, and looked Lynn straight in the face.

“What do you say about coming to work for us?”

Lynn clapped her hands and squealed with excitement.  As she rushed towards Maureen, her hand outstretched to her future boss as a show of acceptance; Lynn’s dreaded fear came to life.  Lynn’s left toe caught behind her right ankle and she was thrown off-balance.  Fighting to regain her stance, Lynn wobbled from side to side.  She felt her knees starting to buckle and managed to correct them, but at a price.  Her left foot fell to one side, right where a small, blue snail was displayed.  Even before she heard the glass crack and collapse under her shoe, Lynn knew the work would never be showcased again.

“I’m so sorry”, Lynn said as her hands rushed to her cheeks.  She stared where her foot resided, too horrified to remove her shoe and take in the tragedy that she had caused.  Maureen’s response was, to say the least, not what Lynn had expected.

“Oh, that’s all right”, the woman said.  “It was one of my earlier pieces.  Who’s going to get mad at you, me?  Why don’t we just say the first one is on us?  Just don’t make a habit of it”, Maureen joked.

“Did you happen to like those comments I made about how important it was for these works to be locked up safely and securely?  I could show you the many ways people could damage these fine works of art”, Lynn offered.

“I can see that”, Maureen teased as she went to fetch a folder that contained paperwork for the new hire.  “Let’s have that be priority number one when you start, shall we?”

The Art of Perfection

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

The Art of Perfection

Vladimir was simply the best.  His professors said so, his classmates all stared at his work with awe, and Vladimir certainly thought it about himself.  Born the son of an engineer and an architect, his innate sense of design and shape was unparalleled.  As a small child he would sketch out intricate pictures that we were beyond his years.  It came as a something of a surprise when this mathematical oriented kid wanted to study painting, but his parents figured he could always fall back on his more analytical skills should his artistic abilities fail him.

As he progressed through the art program, Vladimir found that his painting skills were unmatched.  After studying the style and examples of any artist, he could reproduce their efforts on canvass.  Each line and every brush stroke was efficiently broken down in his mind and he recreated the steps that went into past endeavors.  However, while he was technically the best in the world of practices and techniques, there was a very important area that he lacked.  Vladimir didn’t put any of himself into his art.  His teachers would try to tell him that the need for exposure of oneself through their medium was critical.  Vladimir only argued that he was doing the work, and that work was flawless.  What more did they want?

Like each painting that he sought to recreate, Vladimir soared through his classes.  The studying wasn’t a chore to him since he was used to exerting himself in school.  Professors marked him down for lacking emotional expression on the canvass, but that was not enough reason to fail him in any class.  Vladimir exited school having all the needed skills and tools to paint, but none of the heart.

Vladimir could not understand why his works were not selling.  He had created dozens of samples for his school portfolio, but none attracted any commercial interest.  He painted constantly, but every time he tried to show his work, the studios turned him down.  They were certainly impressed by how someone so young had mastered so much, yet they never felt compelled to look at his next piece.  Each painting was a carefully laid out, intricate, and somehow entirely devoid of emotion.

That is how Vladimir, the best of the best, found himself painting on the street three years after graduation.  He had mainly gotten by on creating drawings for technical manuals and the occasional commercial cover.  Not surprisingly, having one’s work featured on a box for paperback books didn’t fulfill Vladimir.  He wanted to succeed as an artist, not as one who merely collects a paycheck for whatever assignment came along.  He watched the people stroll by and painted the ones that stood out.


Paintings by Marek Otolski

As he worked, carefully placing each person in a position and location best matched their logical spot; he noticed that the wind was picking up.  He began regretting using such a large canvas on an outdoor project.  Without warning, a gust of wind rushed behind his work, grabbed ahold of it, and carried the canvas away from its stand.

Vladimir chased after the painting, but it was too late.  It had been thrown through the air and tossed onto the ground face-down.  A last little burst of wind had pushed the object along.  Vladimir recovered the painting and fount it had been smudged and scraped by its trip along the ground.  To further annoy the artist, rain began to patter down.  Vladimir was vexed to see drops of rain smearing and smudging his efforts.  He angrily pulled the work close to him and retreated towards the awning where his supplies remained.

Vladimir surveyed the canvas and knew that no amount of work or tricks could recover his would-be masterpiece.  There was simply no turning back.  Enraged that the world would turn against him so, Vladimir grabbed his roughest brush, slathered it with dark red paint, and attacked the painting.  His anger and frustration were expressed with each brush strong.  After his fury had subsided, he put down the paintbrush.  Looking about him, Vladimir noticed that he had attracted a crowd.

“My word”, an older gentleman said.  “That’s simply, it’s, well it’s extraordinary.”

“It’s breathtaking”, his companion offered.  “I mean, your visceral creations… the way you’ve made each person every person by obscuring their identity.  And then you try to take them out but they’re too strong to disappear entirely.”

“Those red strokes; they’re so violent and primal”, commented a younger man with multiple facial piercings that was clearly quite excited by the work.  “Do you have other works like these?”

Many paintings later, Vladimir found his niche.  His angry works were booked in galleries months in advance.  The critics cheered his exploration of our inner anger brought to the forefront of his canvas.  Vladimir didn’t rub every painting into the ground, just the ones he was truly invested in.  Soon after his weather-filled encounter, he began to have more fun with his work.  He let his technique take a back seat to what he was really feeling.  He still had some anger to express on the canvas, what person doesn’t?  Still, he found himself immensely more satisfied with his art.  Vladimir now knew that paintings created without feeling were hardly works of art.

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