The room hummed with a silence that was so hushed the sound of human breath was like buzz of a wasp. They were all standing, eyes unflinchingly forward as they stared at the Portrait.
They had all come to see it. Well, they had come to see his collection… of Portraits. But there was only one. The one—The Portrait.
That was what he called it, The Portrait. There hadn’t been anything else to call it. He had worked long months on it. He had studied the image, in his mind’s eye, from every point of view. He had seen it from different lights, diverse angles. Had groped for it in the dark. He had seen it, felt it, touched it… heard it.
He had known it. And then he had become it. They had become one—one body, one heart, one soul, one breath. They had fused into one, one entity and inseparable. That was when he had begun his drawing.
He meticulously sharpened his pencil. There was only one, he never used two. Then he began the outline of the important elements. He sketched every feature, delineating every trait.
He didn’t hurry over it, there was no need to. One never hurried over perfection. When he was satisfied with his drawing, he picked his brush. Like the pencil, there was just one. A long, goat-hair brush that was flexible and thus suitable. It submitted to his control and moved at his bidding.
And dipping it into his colour palette, he washed the drawing with its first colour. He worked on the head, the features, moving his brush with studied concentration. If the colours seemed to run, he didn’t mind, didn’t pay attention. He went from the body to the background, creating a dark, ombre surrounding that depicted their world.
He didn’t allow in any distractions. He refused to see the details on the easel. Saw only the details in his heart. He went into his second layering with that intuitive vision, focusing on the definition of the shadows and bringing it to life. He dimmed the highlights and down-toned the reflective shadow areas.
He was giving prominence to the image and not to the surrounding, its milieu. He focused on details now—eyes, nose, mouth, head—emotion. Detail counted now and he layered it on, projected it, made it visible.
Finally, he stepped back and he looked at it. It was ready.
She was ready—The Portrait.
And now they had come to see her. He watched them see her. There was awe. There was incomprehension. There was reverence. And there was love. And then there was a need to possess.
But she was not for sale.
She was there, a Portrait in watercolour, to be seen, to be admired, to be appreciated, to be loved… to be revered.
She was perfection and called for those things… and more.