The Painter and the Dandelion




 

When Edmond Shaw picked up a paintbrush, the whole town waited in anticipation.  Rumors had spread that his paintings could change the life of anyone who looked upon them.  


There was Robert the shopkeeper, trapped in a family business he had always despised, until Edmond came in one day asking to hang up a piece or two. The owner of the local gallery had rejected Edmond, who then figured that the general store was a better place, anyway, to share his work with the public.  Robert accepted, and watched Edmond install his piece.


That evening, Robert left his shop to his brother Harold, emptied his bank account, and moved to Spain to study the Tango.   

 

After Lucile lost her job as a hotel manager, she frequently found herself in the hospital for various invisible illnesses.  Her back ached with arthritis, her mind was filled with cancers, a tapeworm slithered in her guts, and the world became a potential anaphylactic threat.  Doctors tested her and pricked her with needles, but no ailment or allergy could be proven. Then one day, she caught sight of Edmond hanging a painting in a hospital lobby, and one by one, each ailment fell from her mind.  In that moment she decided to go back to school to become a doctor.


Then there was Charlotte, who had always wanted a child, but could never find a well-cultured man to have a well-cultured child with.  One day, Edmond was strolling through the town with his portfolio under his arm when he tripped and fell, causing paintings to escape their envelope.  Charlotte stopped to help.


Though she never married, she did give birth nine months later to a son, whose plays would later be performed at the local theater.


Edmond had been mostly oblivious to the effects of his artistry, until one day when he awoke to a line of townsfolk extending from his apartment door down the hall, down the stairs, and into the street.  Some wanted to purchase paintings for themselves, and others merely wanted to sneak a peak. He opened his doors to all.


The town changed as courage, love, wisdom, and determination leaked from the paint into the spirits of the people.


It was not always for the best of everyone, though.  Selfish desires came to fruition, and devious intentions gained new justification.  Yet, even the pain spawned from such inspirations would be dissolved by the wonders Edmond had captured in oils.


One day, Edmond was walking to market when he found a dandelion growing from a crack in the pavement.  What a beautiful color, he thought, I must paint it. He brought the dandelion back to his studio and sat down to paint.   It would not be a terribly difficult thing to do, especially not for an artist as skilled as he, so he laid out his paints and began to mix, painting little petals onto a canvas to sample each hue.  


As he worked, knocks came at his door as people sought salvation through his artistry, and every time he returned to his canvas, he found the petals were never quite right.  He filled his arms with his paintings and dropped them outside his door to avoid any further distractions. Petals like rain filled canvases as he mixed late into the night, failing to capture the brilliance of the dandelion. 

Jars of mixed pigments began to clutter his flat as Edmond locked himself away to complete his task, only leaving the house to buy more paint.  When there were no more paintings to leave in the hall, the townsfolk would sometimes try to break in while he was out restocking his supplies, in hopes of finding some precious piece hidden away.  They left the paintings of dandelion petals. Eventually, they and his jars of failures were all that was left.


Deprived of his art, the town’s people grew weary and rumors grew into myths.  They craved the change that only his art could bring.  

By the third year, their yearning had turned to anger, and one evening the people gathered around his window.  "Paint us something! Of anything!" they cried, "Of anything!" 


Edmond called back to them,  "People of the town!   I will paint you one thing more, but you must do something for me!" 


"Anything!" they cried, "Anything!" 


"You must wash the dandelions.  You must wash their color away." 


The people of the town stared at the artist.  


He stared back without another word, and so they turned to begin their task.


Every day, the people would wander around the town in search of dandelions.  Some plucked, others washed, and a golden stream trickled through the town. 

 

Edmond sat in his studio mixing and painting—or so the people thought.

 

As the people washed, a stream of pigment trickled through the streets, down the hills, and into a valley, where Edmond sat with a large titanium bucket, collecting the brilliance of all the dandelions. 


Three years later, Edmond’s series was complete.  The line from the gallery stretched through the town as the people gathered to wait for their turn to feed upon the grace of Edmond’s dandelions.  Inside, voyeurs gazed into the brushwork, consumed by what nestled within the hues and tones of the petals.  

A child, no more than five years of age, pulled on her father’s sleeve.  She couldn’t understand why the dandelions were painted such a funny color. 





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