Outside the storm raged through the night. Icy tendrils swept down the chimney, teasing feeble flames which were the only source of heat for the occupants of the house. With covers pulled tight, they huddled in their beds, feigning sleep as the storm buffeted the house.
Riordan listened as the winds died and a faint gray light seeped through the windows. The rooster’s crow alerted the household of dawn’s arrival. Riordan didn’t wait, he threw back the covers and hurried to dress in the chilly room. Downstairs, he pulled on his boots, coat, and fingerless gloves, then jammed his hat on his head. His easel and a stash of canvas rested by the door, ready for the day’s adventure.
He opened the door to discover a world of stark contrasts. The storm had erased the normal colors, rendering them in shades of gray, accentuated by black shadows and pristine-white snow. Riordan surveyed his new world and considered his options. The pond, already frozen over before the storm would resemble any snow-covered field, he reasoned. He wanted to capture the subtle textures and the muted tones. He knew where he wanted to go.
With his easel and a large canvas tucked up under his arm he plowed into the snowdrift and headed toward the road leading into town. As he trudged through knee-deep drifts, he reminded himself to look at the landscape and consider possible compositions for their artistic values. After walking a mile, he decided on his scene. The Olsen’s white farmhouse lay outlined by the dark tree-lined ridge behind it. Clouds, still heavy with snow, filtered the sunlight that fell on Lookout Peak in the distance.
The Olsen’s barns and other outbuildings helped to give the scene movement and a single tall pine framed the composition. Riordan juggled the canvas as he opened the easel and stuck it in the snow. With the easel situated he placed the canvas on the supports, pulled his pallet free and opened paint tubes. Dabs of Payne’s Gray, Mars Black, Prussian Blue, Sap Green, Titanium White, Raw Sienna, and Cadmium Red soon lay arranged on his pallet. He needed to work fast before the light changed.
Riordan selected his largest brush and blocked in color. His brush swiped across the canvas, his body swayed with the movement and he lost himself to the process.
He wasn’t sure how much time had passed when he noticed the brush slipping from his freezing fingertips. Laying the pallet aside he blew on his hands, warming them before getting back to work. But now his work slowed, he paused more frequently to warm his fingers, and he noticed the cold, as it nipped his nose and seeped into his boots.
Just one more brush stroke he told himself again and again. That shadow needs more blue, and the barn more red, he thought as he tried to ignore the discomfort. At last, he shivered and knew he must stop. Riordan hated to admit defeat against the elements. He stared at the scene attempting to commit each color change, every shadow, each fleck of light to memory before he packed up his gear. He handled his canvas, his day’s masterpiece, with care as he retraced his steps and headed home.
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer