Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Painter

We sat, the four of us, on a yellow sheet in the middle of Fort Tryon Park. The field was filled with people on their day off from work: a father and son playing baseball with a plastic bat, a toddler grasping fiercely to his mother's finger as he took a few steps, a couple with an actual picnic basket romantically eating squid on crackers.

"Look!" hissed my roommate, pointing to the road behind me. I turned my head and watched as a late middle aged man slowly walked by. His face was wrinkled and somewhat sad looking. His scraggly gray hair hung in streaks down the sides of his face. And in his arms, he carried one of the most beautiful paintings I had ever seen.

"Oh, I love Pointillism!" my roommate exclaimed, nearly jumping up in excitement. I did not know what Pointillism was. I assumed it meant the dotted way the painting was colored. Two trees stroked carefully and precisely in blends of pink and red stood on either side of a golden-colored road. Other pastels floated about in the background trees, as though the scene in the painting was a soft entryway into a magical fairyland, each dot a fairy come to help make up the picture.

The man with the painting passed by, and we returned to our picnic.

As the afternoon passed, it became time to go. We walked alongside the fortress wall of Fort Tryon Park, winding our way back towards the entrance. It was time to re-enter the world of cars, school, work, and responsibilities. Surrounding us was a brambling ensemble of shrubs, flowers, trees, and stone, with the bluish white sky shining overhead.

Suddenly, in the distance, we could see a man at an easel.

"It's the painter!"

We walked eagerly, yet cautiously, up to him. His painting was on an easel now and a paintbrush was in his hand. He had rested a few jars of paint on the fortress wall.

"Excuse me," one of our party suddenly spoke up. "We just wanted to let you know that we love your painting. You got us talking about Pointillism for about half an hour back there."

"Well, not quite half an hour."

"Is Pointillism common nowadays?"

"No, it's not very common," the man said. His voice was hardly a hoarse whisper, like it had not been used for a number of years and was trying to remember how to make sounds. "I'm glad you like my picture! I'm going to show all my pictures soon. This is my ninth one."

"Do you come here often?" I asked shyly.

"Every day," he answered, looking not at me but at the trees around him. "For about an hour or two. You see these trees here?" He pointed.

I looked where he was pointing and saw. There were the two trees from the painting, and where we were standing must be the road.

"How long have you been working on this painting for?" asked someone else.

"About four months now."

Four months!

We thanked the man and began an ascent up stone steps. As we walked, I thought - four months. Imagine working on a painting for four months and still not being finished.

Patience, I realized, really is a virtue. Because in order to have perseverance, one must have patience. And if one has patience, one can do things like paint one of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen. If one has patience, one can really do anything in the world.

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