In a quiet rural town there was a dank old studio where an old painter worked. The studio was made of stone that looked as aged as the painter's face, and it was filled with a lifetime of work. The old painter sat over a desk of papers, figures, and sketches, but his sad eyes gazed out the dusty stone window. He was once known for painting scenes so life-like that they seemed to come alive, but now the townspeople looked down upon him as a simple old man, and no longer cared for his work.
As he sighed something stirred across the room. There stood one of the painter's favorites, a painting of two adventurers trekking across the mountains. They looked at their sad painter and in one swift swoop threw a rope over the wooden frame. Together they took the plunge down the standing easel. They climbed over boxes and paint cans and crumpled papers that looked like mountains to the small adventurers, but at last they reached the old painter's desk. They climbed to the top they looked up at the painter to shout hello, but could only watch as his face softened into a weary smile. He took up a paintbrush with still-wet paint and without a word he began to fill a bit of paint that had chipped off one little adventurer's shoulder.
The next day the old painter took some paintings into town for sale. He set up his work on a busy street where many people walked by. Every now and then a passerby stopped to look, but if anyone asked about a price the paintings would begin to throw stones! They did not want to be sold. The passerby would think it was some mean trick by the painter, and would storm off while the old painter helplessly looked on. These paintings were his pride and joy, his passion poured into every stroke.
And so the day passed on. Passersby would stop to look but never stay long enough to make a sale. Then a young girl stopped by. She looked at a painting of a town square, and when she did the people of the painting jeered at her. But instead of leaving in a huff she jeered back! The people stuck out their tongues and she blew a loud raspberry in return.
The old painter seemed to notice only the sinking sun, and began to gather his things. But the girl was enchanted by the painting and demanded that he stay. She wanted to see more of his work but the painter just shook his head. Then she asked something the old man never expected; she wanted to become his apprentice.
Somewhat startled, the old painter again shook his head. He looked down and brushed off the wooden frame of a painting in his hand, but she persisted. The people of the painting looked on as the young girl stepped forward to meet the painter's gaze. She couldn't afford to own such paintings, so she wanted to learn how to make them, to create worlds and the people within them, and to mix imagination with new ideas to create things not seen before. Painting seemed like a kind of magic that uses ordinary materials to create the things that make people dream.
Eventually the painter relented, and the young girl squealed with glee. He said tomorrow would be the day to begin painting, but to expect a long and difficult process of learning.
In time the young girl grew into a successful young painter. She improved business for the old painter and even took over the studio, but one thing she never achieved was the ability to bring a painting to life. Her skill came easily to her, but there are some things take more than skill.
The young girl sat at the old painter's desk looking over the paperwork of sales and expenses, but her mind was elsewhere. Suddenly her eye turned to the very painting she first fell in love with. It was the painting of a town square, but seeing it now was once again like the first time. She saw the delicate brickwork pattern and the graceful faces of the people, so full of vitality. Then she looked to her own unfinished work. It was full of movement, grace, color, and many other wonderful features, but something was missing.
With a cock of her head the young girl tried to see the painting in some new way, to find what made the old painter's work so different from her own. She thought to herself that her work had greater balance than his, more graceful brushstrokes, and better use of color. And yet deep down she knew. It was something more then the sum of its parts, a feeling that emanates from within.
Then she realized why it had taken the old painter two straight months to complete the large work. His practiced hand put expression into every brushstroke, either guided by instinct or some greater force. He worked for days at a time seeing nothing but the canvas, and sometimes, even after all that, he would start over. When a piece was finished it would seem to glow with the intensity that he had poured into it. If magic is what seems impossible, this truly was magic.
At once the young girl was filled with inspiration. She had not felt so energized in years! Without ado she took up her brushes and began to mix her paint. She worked for hours without even noticing. It felt as though she left the world behind her and she was left with the world she was creating. Her hands knew what to do and her mind felt free. For the first time she was lost in her work, and liberated by it. With great care her hand moved across the painting, and as she did a warmth seemed to follow that was almost seemed alive.
At last this looks roughly finished. This story has been knocking about my head for awhile so I'm glad to get it all down. Hopefully I've accomplished describing the feeling one gets when completely involved in making something. Let me know if I didn't quite get it or if you see the creation process a different way. I'm curious how other people feel when they get involved in making things and I love constructive criticism. Thanks for reading!