An excerpt from the book “Orbiting the Giant Hairball” by Gordon MacKenzie
Chapter #24: Paint Me a Masterpiece
- Picture the Mona Lisa and the masterpiece’s subtleties of hue and tone.
- Now compare it to the paint by number Mona Lisa that perhaps you painted when you were little. Notice the distinct separation of colors not existent in the original.
- A Fantasy: Before you were born God gave each of us a canvas and were given the request to paint a masterpiece. At birth the canvas is taken away and given to society for safe keeping. Society cannot resist the temptation to help you out and paint a few blue lines and little numbers all over its virgin surface. Eventually, the canvas is returned to you the rightful owner. However it now carries the implied message that if you will paint inside the blue lines and follow the instructions of the little blue numbers your life will be a masterpiece.
- And that is a lie.
- For more that 50 years I worked on my paint by number creation. With uneven but persistent diligence, I dipped an emaciated paint by numbers brush into color No. 1 and painstakingly painted inside each little blue-bordered area marked 1. More than once I painted beyond a line and, feeling embarrassed, would either try to wipe off the errant color or cover it over with another before anyone might notice my lack of perfection.
- There came a time after half a century of daubing more or less inside the lines, that my days were visited by traumatic events. The dividends of my noxious past came home to roost, and the myth of my life began horrifically to come unglued. I pulled back from my masterpiece-in-the-works and saw it with an emerging clarity.
- It looked awful.
- The stifled strokes of paint had nothing to do with me. They did not illustrate who I am or speak of whom I could become. I felt duped, cheated, ashamed – anguished that I had wasted so much canvas, so much paint. I was angry that I had been conned into doing so.
- But that is past. Passed.
- Today, I wield a wider brush. And I’m swooping it through the sensuous goo of Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson or Ultramarine Blue (not nos. 4,13 or 8) to create the biggest, brightest, funniest, fiercest portrait that I can. Because that has more to do with what’s inside of me than some prescribed plagiarism of somebody else’s tour de force.
- You have a masterpiece inside you, too, you know. One unlike any that has ever been created, or ever will be.
- And remember: If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it. ONLY YOU.