The Cosmic Egg.
From Night Crossing the third in The Trilogy of Remembrance.
The scene which follows is from the very beginning of Night Crossing, the third in the trilogy. Can a visionary artist like Alexander create his art from his dreams and visions?
From Chapter 1 of Night Crossing, the third in The Trilogy of Remembrance.
Sharp rays of sun illuminated tubes of paints set out in orderly rows. Brushes stood upright in tins like sentries organized by size and rank. A dirty rag smelling of turpentine, dropped to the floor and a stony-faced artist gazed at his half-finished canvas. Suddenly, with an anguished cry, he flung his palette at the canvas.
What he then saw froze and silenced him. The palette did not strike the canvas but veered willfully off in a wild arc of its own creation.
The spinning palette appeared to take aim at the long, elegant neck of a mannequin he sometimes used for still-life drawing. It struck it with full force. At first, the mannequin
seemed suspended in time and space but then it clattered downward onto a tin of bright red paint. The tin spilled over dripping paint from the table to the floor where it congealed in a massive red pool. The mannequin lay face-up with a bloodied nose.
Witnessing such absurdities unfolding before his eyes, the artist gave an angry bark of laughter. Surely some unseen hand had mysteriously directed the cascade of events! How could one tin of paint flood an entire studio floor? Astonished to witness such unnatural events, the artist glanced warily about his studio. Shaking his head, he rushed to sop up the mess with a rag.
Even inanimate objects seemed to mock him. Although there was nothing to do but laugh, he did not. Throwing aside the rag, Alexander Wainwright, Britain’s finest landscape painter, glared at his canvas and shouted, “Disgusting! Stupid and trite!”
Scowling, he stared out the high windows of his studio. Beyond them, twilight crept over the Thames dotting it with tiny pinpoints of light. A ferry churned across the river just beyond Tower Bridge and shadows fell softly across his studio. His foot tapped out a staccato rhythm.
As if doomed to repeat his work forever, he had painted a dilapidated farmhouse with a horse in a distant meadow. He sighed. At least he had the beginnings of a human figure—a farmer with a hostile gaze. Where is something new?
For some months, he had felt a stirring within, a questioning of his old habits of thought and feeling. If only a new, clean and cool wind could sweep into his life and cleanse his weary spirit!
Alexander fumbled for his pipe and lit it. He gazed again at Tower Bridge spanning the steel-coloured waters of the Thames. Bathed in pale light, the bridge seemed to beckon him to some far off mythical land where inspiration might lie. He slumped down on a stool.
His art was renowned for its light. A magical sense of the beyond enthralled his viewers. Surely some marvellous secret of life must lie just on the other side of his fields and streams. With his brushstrokes, he transported viewers into the beyond where they could imagine eternity upon eternity. Quickly, he painted over the farmer who seemed angry at being awakened into existence. Satisfied with his handiwork, Alexander thought, Can the light shine through something new—not physical objects or people?
In his tiny kitchen, he put on a pot of coffee. From the corner of his eye, he caught some movement—a shadow or shifting shape dancing on the wall. As he turned toward the shadows, his mouth grew slack. His breath deepened and a blissful, innocent smile spread across his face. His legs grew weak and he staggered toward his vision as if drawn by irresistible but unknown forces.
Against the tall windows, now blackened in the night, a golden egg rose up, shimmering with beautiful gems—diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds which sparkled like the purest sunlight. Turning slowly, this marvellous object throbbed with life as if it contained all the energy in the world. His lips parted and he spoke three words—“the cosmic egg.”
It was perhaps three feet in height and, at its widest point, two feet in breadth. It rotated majestically several times and then drifted upward toward the ceiling. Although stunning, it was as insubstantial as a rainbow and began to dissipate before his eyes.
Awe struck, he stood motionless. The cosmic egg was the seed heralding new creation. Everything necessary was at hand and contained within that egg. For eons, it had tantalized humankind with the secret mystery of creation, life and death and the promise of immortality.
Every so often, Alexander experienced a vision. Sometimes he wondered if he hadn’t really slipped into a dream-like state where anything could be imagined. It usually happened without any warning and certainly could never be commanded. Over the years, he had grown to cherish these dreamy, extraordinarily beautiful fantasies.
He sank to a stool and made a note. Golden egg studded with every sort of gem appearing after my fit of frustration with painting. The most beautiful vision ever sent!
He took another deep breath and smiled. But what is it telling me? Why has it appeared now? He hoped it promised that his period of stultified creativity was at an end. He swore to keep the image close to his heart as a guide.
Within moments, he felt ready—a sense, impossible to describe to anyone who did not create. A fullness within his mind, spirit and body infused him right down to his fingertips. He might overflow, he thought, or even burst if he did not begin at once.
Without thinking, he reached for a pad of drawing paper and his coloured pastel sticks. He began to doodle in an absent-minded fashion. After several moments he stopped and held his work up to the light. Where did those lyrical shapes come from?
In a minute or two, he had drawn three soft shapes in yellow, blue and green—one was a wildly free form shape. The second was oddly angular and yet fit into the free form in such a way, it appeared to give it newly conceived dimensions. Amazing! The two seemed to move together on the page, first closer together and then farther apart. He smiled again. Perhaps they are making love! Something new may be born.
After several moments of intense concentration, he filled in the third triangular shape with shadow giving it surprising depth. These strange shapes communicated in some universal language he had never heard. If he stared at them long enough, his eye was taken into more delicious fantasies of light and colour.
Over the next hour, he filled pages and pages with lines, angles, circles—such undulating shapes which had never flowed from his hand before. Anyone watching him work would be amazed. His entire visage swiftly changed from the serenity of a Buddhist monk to the despair of a distressed captain lost at sea and then to joyousness of a child at the circus.
At last, he was spent. He set down his pastels and spread out his drawings from one end of the workbench to the other. Rubbing his jaw and smiling, he studied the colours and shapes he had created. He laughed out loud. Abstract art! I am painting my own personal interior world.
Mary E. Martin is the author of two trilogies: The Osgoode Trilogy, inspired by her many years of law practice and The Trilogy of Remembrance, set in the glitter and shadows of the art world. Both Trilogies will elevate the reader from the rush and hectic world of today and spin them into realms of yet unimagined intrigue. Be inspired by the final installment of The Trilogy of Remembrance, Night Crossing.
Coming soon! This trilogy has a fourth novel The Wondrous Apothecary which will be published 2019.
Read the prologue and first chapter of The Wondrous Apothecary right here.
The novels of both trilogies are sold anywhere online including at Amazon. Please take a look at the Bookshelves by clicking the coin below.
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