A Can of Revision

By Kristoffer Warren

While sitting on his couch, Jasper had a thought that wasn’t grand or monumental. Although, to him it had value. He wanted to convey this thought through a painting, but wasn’t sure how to begin. Being quite eager, Jasper could think of no better way to start than by picking up his brush, dipping it in some paint, and beginning an outline on the object that was nearest, a notepad. As his thought formed, Jasper grew ready to move to the canvas and start his draft.

His flat was a white room with a blue striped couch, a chestnut coffee table, and an easel in front of a large and welcoming window that filled the room with light. Spending most of his time indoors, ‘painting for pennies’ as he called it, Jasper felt that his window was the cheapest and most readily available means of entertainment.

As he walked to the easel, he grabbed a can of paint off of the alcove in front of the window and dipped his brush inside. Pressing the bristles against the canvas, he began painting. He didn’t care much for what it looked like; he just wanted to start.

Realizing he had some adjustments to make, Jasper went down to his basement to fetch some different paint. The floor was cold, and the small tungsten light on the ceiling barely reached the concrete walls. The room was lined with shelves holding cans of different colors. Jasper enjoyed the simplicity of his basement; all the faster to find his paints. He walked directly to the shelf on the farthest side of the basement to a can labeled Revision.

At a childlike pace, taking two steps a time he proceeded back up the stairs.  He took the can with him to the easel, and opened it with the screwdriver from his belt. Before grabbing his brush he paused and thought.

No, a brush will not do. I really need to tweak this properly. Following this thought, he dipped his hand into the can and began to paint over his first attempt.

There was a knock at the door. Wiping his hands on his white apron he approached the peephole and looked through. It was Gregor, his inquisitive older brother. Jasper opened the door ready for a barrage of questions.

“Hello Gregor,” said Jasper.

“Where have you been? I haven’t heard from you in weeks,” asked Gregor.

He was a tall and burly man, quite the opposite of Jasper. He wore a long grey overcoat, which emphasized his rosy cheeks from the unpleasant climb up the four flights of stairs.

“It hasn’t been more than-”

“It hasn’t been any less than three weeks!” interrupted Gregor as he pushed passed Jasper and went into the apartment. Gregor walked straight to the canvas under the window. He stood there and stared at it; stared at it for five minutes moving his eyebrows quizzically, not making a sound. “Add some yellow,” he said. “Yellow will help.”

“Why yellow?” asked Jasper.

Walking to the door, Gregor put his hand on the knob. He stopped, then turned to Jasper with a sigh and said, “Cause without yellow, this doesn’t make any sense.” And with that, Gregor left the flat.

Jasper stood in confusion for a bit, and then went and sat on the alcove under the window.

Yellow, he thought. Why yellow? Day turned to night and Jasper fell asleep. He awoke the next morning, and after a good stretch, departed down to his basement to grab a can of yellow paint as his brother had recommended. Walking over to the easel he removed his screwdriver and opened the can. As he applied the yellow paint to the canvas, he could see what Gregor had meant.

“Oh Gregor, you silly man!” laughed Jasper to himself.

There was another knock at the door. Jasper looked through the peephole and saw Gregor with a short old man in a pinstripe suit.

What now? he thought as he unlocked and opened the door.

“Hi Jasper,” said Gregor. “This is Firenzẽ. I told him about your art and he wanted to have a look. You know he’s the local art scholar?”

Without hesitation Jasper let them inside. His bewilderment quickly turned to angst as he remembered the plate of half eaten toast that was left on the coffee table.

Untidy, he thought. That is how I will look, untidy. Wonderful!

Firenzẽ, walking past the toast without a glance, approached the easel and looked at it for no more than ten seconds before turning to Jasper with disdain.

“Fool!” Firenzẽ shouted. He spat at Jasper’s feet, and hobbled out the door abruptly. The whole experience was rather quick.

“That was rude,” said Jasper to Gregor.

“Yes,” sighed Gregor. “That was rather embarrassing for Firenzẽ and I both. I do apologize, it won’t happen again.”

But it did, for months more. Every few weeks Gregor would bring another person to Jasper’s flat to look at his work. Some of them were curt, like Firenzẽ all over again, but some Jasper considered helpful. This gave him the chance to showcase his painting to a smaller audience before presenting it on a larger scale.

Although Jasper received much advice and criticism about his piece, he realized that it was his own critical analysis of these suggested revisions that led to his success. Ultimately, it was his piece, and the suggestions that he received could only be taken so far. After completing his painting, Jasper was able to present it at the Town Hall. Many attended the occasion that day, including Firenzẽ, who was very displeased.

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