Inspiration Is A Wayward Muse

February 11, 2011
The Artist bought the canvas and set it directly in front of the North-facing window in his studio.
The late afternoon light shone through it, heady and dark yellow, as if the canvas was a one-faceted prism.
This canvas was to be the starting point of his greatest masterpiece, the painting that would make him world-famous and a magnet for all of the beautiful and sensitive women of the world.
The problem was, he hadn't the faintest idea as to what the painting would be...
The Artist stood in front of the canvas one morning in June, his right hand stroked an invisible goatee as he stood with his other hand on his hip and his legs placed a foot apart.
He considered all of the beautiful and poignant things he could paint on the superb piece of spotless canvas, his mind flitting from image to image.
But he was disappointed, nothing seemed good enough, none of his ideas had the stuff of masterpiece.
So he set the canvas into a corner of his studio, between an old easel and the South wall. The easel had been his first; it was sturdy and well-built, but one of the legs had broken in such a way that it could not be repaired, and the Artist just couldn't bring himself to discard it. He believed in sentimentality.

There the canvas sat for months, while he painted portraits, commissions, and -in his mind, average pieces of art.
His talent grew, he became well-known in his city, and he forgot about the canvas that was pre-ordained for his masterpiece. It lay in the corner and gathered dust; forgotten and crumbled castles of air.
Then, one glorious Sunday afternoon, as sunlight shone through the North window much like it had that afternoon many months before, the Artist experienced a fit of inspiration.
Colors and shapes poured onto the only canvas he could find, though he hadn't looked between the old easel and the South wall.
The canvas he Had found was dingy and old. A half-heartedly begun miniature still-life of a Chinese bowl with a daffodil design was placed a little toward the top of the left corner; the canvas had been set down and forgotten not long after he had started it years before.

The Artist left the unfinished daffodil bowl where it was, with a few new touches here and there. He painted three yellow daffodils standing in the bowl, a pink petal drifting down the canvas underneath, and he painted the unfinished edges of the bowl all the more rough and jagged, causing it to look fragmented, as if a hole of nothingness was slowly consuming the bowl.
He actually thought that the already existing painting gave all the more to his original inspiration.

The Artist painted in a feverish and soul venting ecstasy, his face dancing through a thousand different emotions as he lived his life ten times over. Paint flowed from his brush as if from his soul; he reeled with color and one single muse of a thousand facets. His brain changed dimensions, and his heart flew to heaven.

The Artist sweated pints of precious saltwater, enough for a small sea fish to live in; and he bled -though only a little, when he cut his finger on the top right corner of the canvas. Even he couldn't understand how in the name-of-the-secretive-man-on-the-moon had he cut his finger; but all the same, both sweat and blood mixed with the paint, and the Artist's soul was intertwined with what he now realized was becoming his lifetime's greatest masterpiece.
Finally, he was done.
His muse finished their waltz and departed as he fell to his knees in exhaustion. He raised his eyes to take his fill of the finished painting, and what he saw filled his heart, body, and soul; and lit them all on a white, shining fire. He laughed and cried, his face in his hands, his fingers parted so he could gaze at the painting.
He stood up, tears still streaming down his face, a smile playing about his wet lips, and his exhaustion was wiped away. He had been kneeling, entranced by his painting for over an hour, long enough for his masterpiece to dry.
The Artist was seized with an intense desire to share his painting with the world.
He whipped the canvas off the easel, and without even grabbing a coat, (he already had shoes on) he burst out of the door into the street, eager to show his painting to every person he met.
The Artist made his way around town, spreading joy and beauty everywhere he went. Everyone he met was overcome with emotion at the sight of his painting, and every person led him to a friend, family member, or acquaintance they thought needed to experience the the Artist's masterpiece.
His painting eventually made its way to a prestigious art museum, there to be enjoyed by millions.
People came from all over the world to experience the Artist's painting, and they all fell to their knees, overcome with the ecstasy of beauty, joy, and tears.
And then one day, when he was moving out of his small and decrepit studio, as he was packing up all of his belongings, the Artist found the forlorn and neglected canvas, still between the North wall and the old easel, and still gathering dust.
The Artist picked it up and wiped it off with curiosity before he realized that this was the same, preordained canvas that he had put aside almost years ago, and he fell to his knees like that time once before, only this time with wonder and realization.
"Inspiration works in strange and mysterious ways..." were the words that echoed around his studio, the last words he himself would utter there.

Join the Discussion

This article has 33 comments. Post your own now!

leafy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm
It's funny, how life works. I've taken on the journey of reading all of Raven's pieces (you, my Starry Bard, are second on my list to explore), and stumbled upon your remark of how "inspiration is a wayward muse." I was sure this was a quote by some long dead bard, Shakespeare, maybe, and decided to look it up. I was amazed to find that I was wrong, and you, in fact, were the author of this phrase! Needless to say, I think the description fit Inspiration perfectly, she can be quite annoying in h... (more »)
leafy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm
Hm. These seems to be one of my (if not, then the) longest replies to an article so far. This story deserves every one of them.
IamtheshyStargirl replied...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm
Raven's pieces tend to do that to you :) I am flattered that I could be considered even remotely in the same league. I don't really understand what lil meant that I state the obvious, usually I have a hard time remembering that the reader does not, in fact live in my head and hear all of my thoughts while I write. I didn't really envision anyone in particular, the Artist was sort of just born out of nothing into the story that was always meant to be his. What comes to mind when I see an em... (more »)
IamtheshyStargirl replied...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm
Teenink won't let me break up my comments anymore, sorry for the jumbled mess.
leafy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm
Really? I've always thought you two as being similar (my mind has a tendency to pair people up). And yes, you did answer my question, what a nice painting that would make :). You are most certainly welcome Stargirl ^_^.
leafy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm
Oh, and the HTML < b r > (just take out the space) helps with spacing :)
IamtheshyStargirl replied...
Jan. 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm
I actually think your mind paired rightly, he's my best friend :)
Thank you, that should help a lot :D
lilmartz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 31, 2011 at 11:17 am
This is really good! However, I have a few suggestions that would make this better. First of all, I think you state the obvious too much. Some examples of this in your writing is "he already had shoes on," "He actually thought that the already existing painting gave all the more to his original inspiration," and "He believed in sentimentality." If I were you, I would just delete those sentences and phrases out. Also, I think you need to slow the final paragraphs down a bit. You did a great job p... (more »)
IamtheshyStargirl replied...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm
Thanks for the comment and advice, lilmartz :)
DaughterofEvil said...
Sept. 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm
Wow...I can definitely relate to this...and also am so glad I read it. There are no errors I can even think of, and in the end, I'm glad the Artist passed on happily.
IamtheshyStargirl replied...
Sept. 30, 2011 at 4:05 pm

That is good indeed, one should always be glad after reading something, even if the story is sad, I think one should come away with a sense of satisfaction in some form or another. 

Thank you for reading and commenting!

shadowrider said...
Aug. 16, 2011 at 11:00 pm
This was beautiful! It made me smile as I read it. I love the forth part the best. It had some of the most fantastic description I've ever read! Some of this felt like it had a bit of a fairy tale flow with how the story progressed, and for your piece I think it worked well. Interesting article. What gave you the inspiration?
IamtheshyStargirl replied...
Aug. 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Thank you for your comment :)

I don't really know what inspired me, I just started writing it in my journal one morning. 

leafy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm
Why, the Wayward Muse bequeathed this Stargirl with the inspiration :)
IamtheshyStargirl replied...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm
Heh heh, pretty much, Leafy :)
Thesilentraven This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm
Goodness, (I say, absentmindedly running a hand through my hair and wearing an odd expression on my face; awed by the profound and colorful story, which was truer than true and prettier than beauty; my mind filled with the echo of the artist's last words to his past and my heart filled with wonder at the power of the long-awaited masterpiece; puzzling the strange way that things turn out), I really should have read this long ago. Really really should have. Were you aware of... (more »)
IamtheshyStargirl replied...
Aug. 16, 2011 at 10:23 pm
Le hannon Raven :) I was not aware of her/him at the time, but I have come to realize that she or he definitely inspired this story, and has been with me since, of not forever. 
LadyJaneGrey This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Beautiful writing, absolutely beautiful. It made me sad and happy at the same time, which I hope was your goal. The writing, the character, and the pacing were great. Don't stop writing! 


IamtheshyStargirl replied...
Jul. 25, 2011 at 10:10 am
Oh wow, thank you very much for your praise :) 
tealbird said...
Jul. 23, 2011 at 8:01 pm
You have a really good way with words!! The story was simply captivating from the very beginning, please don't ever lose faith in your work!
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