Ocean Painting

Surreal and Dark Artworks

The water swelled around Izzy’s feet, chilling her toes. She wiggled them to keep from going numb. The idea that she should have put on her boots took shape in her mind. She gathered the ends of her green satin dress up, but the folds were all ready dripping sea water. Bundling her skirt around her, she turned back to the paining.

The frame was half hanging off the wall due to the weight of the water gushing out of it. The wall itself had turned midnight black with heavy grey clouds and speckled stars. Where the wall met the wooden skirting board and floor had become an active horizon. The cries of seagulls and roaring waves filled the long gallery.

Izzy stepped back, without letting her eyes leave the painting. She could feel her concentration slipping. The water sloshed around and licked at her ankles. She looked at the seagulls and saw them stirring. Their grey wings began flapping and they darted above the waves. Izzy tried calling them to her, but they were the first wild animals she had brought out of a painting and thus didn’t listen.

She tried again and this time the closest bird emerged from the canvas. The seagull flapped angrily around her head. Izzy tried to wave it off but as she did so her skirts tumbled back down. Fumbling after the slippery satin, she heard footsteps on the main staircase.

‘Stop,’ she muttered to herself and the painting.

The seagull squeaked in her ear before turning about and pushing back through the veil Izzy had created between the world of the painting and the world she was in. Dragging in a deep breath of harsh salty air, Izzy commanded the sea back. Obediently the waves obeyed and she watched the water roll back into the painting.

Voices drifted down the corridor, a door opened close by and Izzy’s heartbeat went wild. Forcing herself on, she pushed the sea further back. Water rushed back up the wall, which was slowly turning back to a normal pale pink colour. Izzy’s hands roamed through the air, concentrating the power into placing back the sea and making everything dry again.

She heard the gallery door creak open and realising she had no time to do any more, she fled. Gathering her skirts as she went, Izzy did not spare a glance for any other painting in the long gallery. She reached the other door at last and quietly opened it. Stealing a look over her shoulder, she saw a trail of wet footprints and a dark patch under the painting.

Trying to contain her thoughts and emotions, she bent to the floor and pressed her hand to the cold wood. Her power spiralled out of her finger tips and along the floor, making the footprints and damp patch evaporate. A pair of brown leather boots came into the top corner of her vision. Izzy stood up slowly and slipped through the door. She pulled it too just enough and listened to the voices of the other side.

They were all male and so far hadn’t noticed anything unusual. They were taking about the most recent play they had seen. Izzy could also hear the clinking of glasses and swishing of clothes. Breathing a sigh of relieve, she turned and hurried back to her rooms. Closing the door behind her, she heard footsteps in the corridor she had just come though.

Grabbing a book from the table in front of her, Izzy went to the window seat and sat down. Opening the book, she tried to make it looked like she had been reading for a while. The knock on the door yanked her head up.

‘Come in!’ she called too loudly then bit her lip.

The door swung up and she was half-relieved to see her older brother standing there.

She got up, abandoning the book and walking back to the table, ‘what is it?’ she asked calmly.

With a swift glance around, her brother stepped in and shut the door.

‘You need to be more careful,’ he spoke softly, ‘the guild are not happy. Did it have to be sea water?’

‘I’m sorry,’ Izzy mumbled sliding her hands behind her back, ‘I just wanted to try it.’

‘I know, but you cannot run around using your magic like that. What if something had gone wrong?’ her brother pressed.

‘Nothing has yet,’ she countered back.

Her brother finally moved from the door and to the fireplace. He took the poker and began shuffling the hot coals around. Izzy watched him place some more logs in and the flames come back. Afterwards, he came over and hugged her. Izzy settled into his arms and listened to his whispering voice, ‘it’s all right. I am not angry at you. I will fix things up with the guild. But you have to try and control yourself. You need to learn how to use your powers before you go attempting things like that. Soon enough, you’ll be able to do a lot more then make paintings come alive.’

Thoughts tumbled in her head, but she didn’t voice any of them. Izzy could feel tiredness sinking in. She breathed in the familiar, but slightly salty smell of her brother and heard the ocean’s waves.

Little Crocodile

It was surreal, but there they were drifting under a night sky filled with the most wondrous activity from the stars and planets. The water lapped at the side of their boat and in the silence that was all they could hear. Mother lent on the bent wooden pole and tried not to weep. Her children transfixed by the light display above them had dried tears still on their faces. Gently, Mother steered them down the river that had once been the Nile, but was now known as the Nilegy Sea.

‘Father would have loved this!’ the youngest called out.

‘Yes, yes he would,’ Mother replied sadly and looked down at her husband’s hollowed out back.

(Inspired by; painting by Leonora Carrington entitled How Doth the Little Crocodile 1998) 

Cat With Books

Pushing open the door, Kanas walked into the quiet section of the library and found it empty. Around her the bookcases grew from the floor and into the ceiling, each stuffed full of volumes that seemed to watch and whisper to her. Closing the door, Kanas clutched the two books she had already picked up to tighter her chest and rested her chin on top of them. Her breath had caught and her eyes could not stop glancing around.

It felt wrong to be in here this late, but on the other hand she was relieved to have found a space to study. Abruptly, the next song on her IPod burst into her large headphones and she jumped. Catching herself on a nearby bookcase, which also caused a small scratch on her palm, she recovered quickly and slipped the headphones off. 12 Stones Open Your Eyes drifted softly into the room. Shaking her head, Kanas meandered around the bookcases and towards a centre isle, where a large table and fourteen chairs sat.

Kanas slipped her books and bag onto the table, which also held a number of green shaded lamps, a pile of abandoned books, a vase of dried flowers and another object which seemed out of place. Frowning, Kanas walked to the other end of the table to see what it was. The music from her headphones still floated out and in her curiosity, she seemed to have forgotten about it.

She stepped around the corner of the table and looked down. The object was a large painting in a wooden frame. It depicted a sleeping cat on a bookcase surrounded by birds, mice and books. The cat was a tabby and looked content with its body and paws wrapped around the books. Kanas smiled, it reminded her of herself and her bedroom. Slowly, she reached out and stroked the cat’s fur. There was no glass in the frame, so her fingers brushed against the dried paint.

Pulling herself away, she went back to the other end of the table and set herself up. She had an English essay to write on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Opening her laptop, she switched it on and left it loading whilst she sorted out her notes and the books. Just before she was about to start typing her eyes flickered to the painting once more, even though she now couldn’t see it from this angle. I’ll ask about it later, she thought as she slipped her headphones on and began typing.

She wrote solidly for an hour, finding it easy going and her essay taking shape nicely. She was so wrapped up in her work that she didn’t hear the door opening or the sharp coughing behind her. A figure appeared in the corner of her eye and Kanas jumped, her hands shot up to rip the headphones off and her mouth forming an O scream. With the music off though, the janitor’s voice came to her and her shocked faded.

‘It’s closing time. Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I didn’t know you were here. Are you all right?’ he was speaking.

Kanas nodded and looked at the time on her laptop, it was two am.

‘I thought it was an all nighter?’ she asked, saving her work.

‘It is. Was I believe, but there’s no one else here now. Bit silly if you ask me, keeping the university library open all night on a Friday,’ the janitor chuckled, then stopped as his eyes fell on Kanas, ‘Deadline due?’

‘Overdue. I got an extension till Monday. My aunt died last week,’ Kanas explained.

‘I’m sorry about that.’

‘My hall was too noisy and there was a group of media student taking up the twenty-four hour computer room. So I came here. I’ll leave if you want me too,’ Kanas added.

‘You got much left to do?’

She nodded.

‘You can come back tomorrow though,’ the janitor smiled.

‘Yeah, thanks,’ Kanas replied and quickly began packing up.

The janitor carried on his sweeping off the floor then began cleaning the other side of the table. Kanas saw him touching the painting and suddenly remembered about it. Slipping on her bag and picking up her books, she called to him and asked, ‘where did that painting come from?’

‘This?’ he asked holding it up, ‘I found it the other day behind one of the bookcases in here. No one seems to know anything about it and the head librarian told me to throw it away today. I think it’s too nice though. I was going to keep.’

Kanas bite her lip and nodded. She turned to go.

‘Wait. Do you…want it?’

She turned back and walked over. Her eyes fell on the painting and a smile came to her face, ‘Can I? There’s just something about it. It reminds me of myself…somehow…’ she giggled.

‘Sure. My wife’s sick of me bring things home. Here,’ he prompt and handed her the painting, ‘I’ll show you out.’

‘Thanks,’ she said and slipped the painting under her arm, ‘it’ll brighten up my room.’

‘I hear they are good for inspiration too,’ the janitor added.

They walked through the library and to the main door. After saying goodbye, Kanas stepped into the cool November night and headed back to her room. Her hall was quiet and after juggling the painting and books, she made it through her front and room doors. Putting everything down on the bed, she turned on the light and took the old clock down from the wall above the desk.

She wasn’t sure that the hook would take the painting, but after a few tries, she got it up. Stepping back, she looked at the sleeping cat and felt a wave of peace and tiredness creep across her. Sorting out her things, she then got ready for bed, but she couldn’t help but noticed that the painting really brightened up the room.