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When I Pick Up the Brush

A Word Blanket

When I pick up the brush I may have a tree or a sea monster in mind; or I might have a photo on my phone, which I need to keep tapping with my left hand in order not to have to put down the brush again and put my right thumb on that little white dish that somehow knows more about the ball of my right thumb than me; or I may have nothing in my little head other than the need to scream with colors, it being too late at night to scream the conventional way unless I join a bacchanal going on somewhere but that is not really my thing; in any case, when I pick up the brush I generally dip it in water first, always in a shapely glass jar that makes my heart happy when I look at it, and then I remember that I should probably get some toilet paper to blot away extra water, well, sometimes I have toilet paper left from last time—painting, not going to the bathroom—that looks artsier than the attempts at art that I have taped to the wall in front of me and which I use again instead of new toilet paper because toilet paper costs money and I don't have much of that; after I dip the brush in the water I take a deep breath and reach for a color—usually the deeper blue color or the faded green one, I don't know what they're called—and take a stroke or a shake or a bop at the paper, which I sometimes have covered with water beforehand to make a cool effect that I assume also has a name that I don't know; well anyways when the first drops of paint hit the paper I think, I should drop out of college and do nothing but watercolors for the rest of my life, and I want to make something elaborate and cool so I take another deep breath and make another mark on the paper that completely ruins the great art that I created seconds ago by accident: it was the wrong color, it fell outside the line that I meant to be the edge of the face, AND the pigment was too strong; maybe I should not quit school, I say to myself—quietly, because my housemates are asleep and they wake up when I turn on the faucet even just a tiny little bit in the kitchen—and then I say, but I should also not quit painting, and I swish the brush in the jar for three seconds so as to be rid of the offending color for now as I try to figure out how to fix what is wrong, but I can't really figure it out so I pick up another brush and another color and take my chances; when I pick up the brush this time I am chewing my lip and knitting my brows because that's the face you make when you're concentrating really hard and want everyone to know, except my dramatic performance has an audience of just four, two owls and two succulents, and they are all mildly challenged in the area of knowing, whatever the Egyptians do say about owls; the third color mixes with the second and first colors and it looks pretty cool for whatever reason, but now it's nothing like a face, just a bunch of splotches, which is fine, it is kind of autobiographical, it resembles the journey of my own face—heh—maybe I can be a great artist after all; I hang the completed scream on the wall by my other great works of art when it's dry so I can marvel at my genius in the morning and in the evening despair at the fact that I will never achieve greatness by picking up that brush.

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When I Pick Up the Brush
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