The painter threw down his brushes in disgust. He stepped back to examine the canvas. Everyone said his talent was self-evident. So, what was missing? His latest work was a portrait of an old family friend who was also his agent. Stefan had commissioned the work himself as he found it hard to see the artist struggle to make a living.
From a youthful age, it was clear this painter was brilliant. Art school had confirmed this. When they met, his wife had expressed her utter belief in him. Three years on and even she was beginning to lose faith.
His paintings exuded class and know-how… and yet. They simply would not sell. At least not for the price he needed to earn a crust. All who knew him were baffled. Artists who were far inferior had become internationally famous. He, however, was faced with penury or giving up on his life’s goal. In his heart, the painter sensed his work needed that elusive spark, but he could never discern what it was.
‘Darling,’ said his wife, ‘Stefan will love it.’
She rubbed his back reassuringly as he bent to pick up the brushes.
‘I hope so,’ he sighed. ‘But I can’t charge him what I need to.’
‘He can afford it.’
‘No. Look at how he has helped us. He’s lent us so much money. And he’s yet to see a penny back. I’m going to let him have it for free. Darling, could you fix me a drink?’
His wife placed his gin and tonic behind him on the table with his paints and left the room.
A minute later, she heard glass shattering and her husband curse.
Months passed and it seemed he would have to give up on his dream. He began looking for a job, though the thought of actually taking one was tantamount to suicide in his mind.
He was typing out his C.V. when an email arrived from Stefan.
‘Hi guys, I hope you’re well. I feel most embarrassed, but at the same time elated for you. I had this collector over for supper and he was so taken with the portrait! Would you be offended if I sold it to him? I know it was really a gift for me, but if I can get a good price…’