The Art of Derek Dohren

painting, writing, photography

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spring 2011 - Marta

Meet Marta. She’s about four years old. She’s a great artist though she probably doesn’t know this yet. She just got me out of a fix.

I’d been having one of those days you see. Out painting, in a leafy, rambling garden somewhere above the Alhambra, I had reached that point where mind and body had gotten themselves hopelessly out of sync. You know the scenario – the body won’t do what the brain is telling it to do. For an artist the only solution is to temporarily surrender to your fate, put the brushes down, and go and do something else – usually something involving alcohol or some other narcotic of choice (note: the Granada Insider does not condone the excessive use of mood altering substances).

Then again you may be lucky and have someone like Marta come along.

My landscape painting was lacking something and I didn’t know what. In truth it was lacking a lot. It had no pizzazz, no wow factor and I was seriously contemplating putting the whole thing aside and starting anew. Such botch jobs are sadly not uncommon and one has to accept that not every visit to the canvas is going to yield pleasing results.

It was then I became aware of a pair of eyes staring intently from behind me at my canvas. It was a little girl, her mum standing a few yards further back, and she seemed either fascinated by what wonderful things this strange man was doing with his paints or appalled by what a mess this strange man was making with his paints (delete as applicable). Either way this little girl seemed to sense that man and painting where at some sort of pivotal moment.

I ushered her forward, offered her a brush and invited her to ‘do something’ to save my day.

She wasn’t having any of it of course, and understandably cast a nervous glance back to mum. However with a little further encouragement she took a step forward and, perhaps a little hesitantly, dabbed a few spots of lemon yellow into my clumsily depicted foliage. That done, with a greater certainty she then splashed in some greens and blues. Her mum rushed forward and stopped proceedings before they got much further because a) she didn’t want her daughter to ruin a masterpiece or b) she didn’t want the strange man to be humiliated any further by a four year old (do you need to phone a friend for the correct answer?).

I thanked them both sincerely and as they departed the scene I allowed myself some time out to stand back and look afresh at the dog’s breakfast sitting on my easel. Marta had certainly gone into areas I would’ve left alone and she had applied colour in all the ‘wrong’ places, but you know what, all of a sudden the painting was alive and vibrant. It had some missing oomph, a bit of dazzle. With effortless ease she had waved a magic wand over my sorry effort and given it the kiss of life. It was more tasty tapas, and less dog’s breakfast now. With fresh impetus I continued on, being careful to the point of paranoia not to erase too much of Marta’s contribution.

Half an hour later, as I was reworking some of the foreground, I caught a glimpse of Marta and her mother making their way out of the park a hundred yards or so away, sadly oblivious to the positive difference they’d made to my day. In gratitude, I dabbed in a bit more of ‘Marta’s’ yellow. That kid’s a great artist.

 

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