Prompt Fiction

Fiction: Subjective Art

(This was originally posted May 20, 2007)

Warning: Language


“That is a stroke of genius.”

Callie placed her paintbrush on her easel and turned to him. “Seth, what the hell are you talking about?”

“Get it? Stroke? Painting?” He grinned, the dimple on the left side of his mouth causing an indentation in his cheek.

She used to think that indentation was cute. Callie sighed, picked up her paintbrush and gave her boyfriend a sidelong glance.

“I mean, truly. That whole … summer thing,” he fluttered his hands to illustrate his lack of description, “it’s really happening.”

“It’s not a painting about summer.”

“But … the leaves. They’re all like, flapping in the wind.”

Exasperated, Callie accidentally flipped her paintbrush; dollops of red-gold oil speckled her smock. “What … leaves? What … flapping?’

“There.” Seth pointed to the canvas. “And there, and there …” His finger got dangerously close to her painting. She had spent the last week trying to find inspiration for this particular piece and she had to have it painted and turned in by tomorrow if she wanted to make an A in the class.

She slapped his hand away. “If you leave a fingerprint on my painting, I WILL hurt you,” she growled under her breath while turning her attention back to her work.

Seth glanced down at his black t-shirt. “You got paint on me.”

“Sorry,” Callie mumbled. She didn’t exactly sound sorry.

“You know, I don’t get you.”

“That’s an understatement,” she mumbled again. She kept her attention riveted to the canvas before her. She continued to dab red-gold paint at various places throughout the picture. It was almost done; it just needed that extra … something. She chewed on the end of her paintbrush, completely oblivious to the fat drops that fell at her feet. “What does it need …”

“How about structure?”

She blinked at the painting and then forced herself to focus on Seth. “What?”

“Structure,” Seth pointed helplessly at the painting. “It’s just a bunch of … blobs. I mean, no offense, but you call this art?”

Callie bristled at his words. She could feel a slow heat burning her face and she struggled to keep her voice even. “And you call the shit you make out of wood art?”

“My sculptures are most definitely art.”

“How can you say that?” Callie carefully lowered the paintbrush. “They quite literally look like piles of shit.”

“They’re dinosaur droppings.”

And to think, she used to think his vision was revolutionary. “It’s dinosaur shit, Seth. It doesn’t have any real form or shape – it’s just a brown, hard blob.”

“And you call this mess art?” Seth gestured around the room. Various sized canvases were leaning against the far wall.


“It’s crap, Callie. I’m sorry, I should have told you at the beginning but truly, you can’t paint.” He walked over to a large purple and brown painting. “And what the hell is this? I’ve always wondered.”

Callie swallowed her tears and forced her chin up to meet his defiant glare. “It’s a basket of grapes.”

“No shit.” Seth sounded amazed and shook his head. “I never would have guessed.”

“Art is subjective, Seth. It’s what you make of it. It’s what an individual sees that’s important.”

“Well, all I see are blobs.”

“Then you’re an idiot.”

“And I’m outta here,” Seth gathered up his backpack and carving tools.

“Don’t forget your shit.” She kicked a block of wood toward him.

He snatched up the wood, sniffed and stomped out of the door.

Callie closed her eyes and took a few minutes to get her temper under control. What a jerk! She was a talented artist. Her art teacher said so. She slowly opened her eyes and looked at her painting. She studied it for long moments, cocked her head to one side and said to no one in particular, “Actually, it DOES sort of look like leaves flapping in the wind.”

I am, right this very minute, starting my new writing schedule. At least, I SHOULD be. By the time you read this, I SHOULD be at MSU’s library typing my fingers to the bone working on fresh fiction. If I’m not, you totally have my permission to kick my butt – hard.