Scene 2: The Studio
Karen needed to digest what had just happened. She stood and looked at the paintings hung on the walls. They made a gallery dedicated to Tammy and her family, drawn from scenes in their home. Even glancing at them, she could see the suffering of the artist. The pictures were in chronological order. They began with the crude drawings of a toddler, but those radiated happiness and artistic promise. Then they went through several years of elementary school. These began with the bright light of happiness—the view of life of a contented and talented child. But as the years passed, a dark aura grew around the subjects. Mr. Beaumont gradually disappeared, while Patsy aged decades in a few years, and Tammy grew from a tiny, disabled baby into a huge disabled child in a wheelchair. The pictures that included Mr. Beaumont were all bright, but as his image disappeared, the pictures grew darker. She asked Tammy who had painted them.
“My sister Sandy. She’s a genius artist. She can paint your portrait in a flash. Even something ugly, she can make into a beautiful painting.”
“Is that her studio?” Kitten asked, pointing to the open, light-filled space next to the living room. “Your mom converted the sitting room into a studio for her, right?”
“Actually, Daddy did that before he left us.”
At that moment, Sandra returned and stood before her easel. Taking up a piece of charcoal, she sketched Tammy and Karen sitting together in the living room. Karen wondered how many sketches of Tammy Sandra had done over the years. It took only a few minutes. Then she lifted the canvas board from the easel and showed it to them.
“That’s really beautiful, Sis,” Tammy said.
“Only because you and your friend are in it. Mrs. Zawinski didn’t think I was good at art in second grade.” Sandra’s voice cracked.
“That was a long time ago, Sandy.”
“Oh! Right! Don’t patronize me. I know my artistic talent doesn’t amount to anything. It’s for personal use only and not for public display.”
Karen tried to steer the conversation in a positive direction. “Sandy, your art is so beautiful! Do you think you could paint me and Mama sometime?”
Tammy added, “Maybe things would be different if you believed in yourself and this God-given talent of yours, Sandy!”
Sandy glared at them and replied with an icy voice. “Even great artists starve, and I know I’m not great. So if you don’t mind, I’ll keep my focus on fashion design, and I’ll keep my artistic talent for a hobby. Artists struggle while fashion designers become millionaire celebrities, so why should I waste time trying to become an artist when I can use my talent to become famous and rich?”
Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.