I stared at myself in the mirror long and hard. My eyes were dark and dead, my skin pale and colourless, and my lips parsed shut in a non-existent expression. I looked down at my hands; my nails had been growing back because I wasn’t biting them anymore.
I breathed in deeply and exhaled with my eyes shut as I stood before my giant blank stretched canvas. It had been gathering dust for two months. People were starting to notice that I wasn’t painting and began asking me if I was okay.
The truth is, I wasn’t okay.
It was usually my emotion that fuelled my painting. My extreme highs or extreme lows coupled with either positive or negative energy. This energy was my driving force. It’s what truly made me an artist and separated me from everyone else.
I stared at the canvas, glanced over at my brushes, and then looked around the room hoping that some sort of inspiration was there like a hidden Easter egg just begging to be discovered. Unfortunately all I saw was a dimly lit room, a mirror that I’d rather not see, and an ugly blank canvas. Blank like me. Blank like my expression, thoughts, charm and charisma. The canvas didn’t have a clue, and neither did I.
Desperate to feel something… anything, I reached for a piece of glass that I had been using to texturize my paint. It was Cobalt Blue but had speckles of various paint colours on it from past inspiration, long gone now. It wasn’t as sharp now, having been converted from shard of glass to painting tool, but it was still jagged on one side.
I laid down in front of my canvas on the cold ceramic floor holding the piece of glass in my hand as I stared up at the slow and predictable ceiling fan circulating with purpose. I felt envious of the ceiling fan… It knew what its job was. It did its job without hesitation as soon as the switch was flicked. Where was my fucking switch?
The cold from the floor sent shivers up my spine and made the blonde hairs on my arms stand on end. Tiny goose bumps appeared all over my arms as I held my forearm in front of my face. I stared at the glass and thought about cutting my arm, maybe then I would feel something. But I couldn’t… I wasn’t even motivated enough to do that. All I could do is lie there, like a dead wilted flower lost in the woods.
I must have been on the floor for at least an hour. The only thing that got me up was my dry salivaless mouth. I headed to the kitchen and reached for a glass. I opened the fridge to grab the usual, some juice or water. I hadn’t thought about a “drink drink”. I had been sober for months. But I spotted an old reserve bottle of whiskey collecting dust on the top of my pantry and opted to leap off the wagon.
The first glass burned that old familiar burn. The back of my throat twitched with delight as if to say “where have you been old friend?”
Within an hour, I was absolutely sloppy smashed. I nearly fell down the stairs as I was making my way back to the studio, but clutched onto the banister and saved myself from a very painful accident.
I started opening my paint aggressively. I squished the paint between my hands, it was cold and slimy. It felt good. I stroked it through my hair, then reached for another colour and wiped it on my face. I stripped down to my boyish underwear and bra and began painting my body in its entirety. My face; Red with Black strokes, My arms; Yellow, My stomach; Blue, My legs: Green. When I was painted head to toe I began smearing the colours and designs into each other to swirl and mix the paint on my body. Some parts were getting dry. My face felt tight like I had just been botoxed, or like when you do when you’re putting on one of those mud masks.
I sat on the cold floor again as I stared at the canvas, still blank. I was tired, and drunk, and the last thing I wanted to do was paint. I had already convinced myself that I could wash my sheets and shower tomorrow. The paint, now almost completely dry, began cracking on my skin.
My body felt tight and restricted as I staggered to my feet. I was just about to turn off the light and go upstairs as I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I looked like something out of Cirque de Soleil, like I should be eating fire somewhere. My droopy drunk eyes sparkled as I smiled and began laughing hysterically.
My canvas may still have been blank, but I was not.