What it feels like to paint

I wish I could share the feeling of painting with you. I have painted all my life. Right now I am painting a portrait of a friend’s dog, an interesting pit bull with one ear that stands up and the other that flops down. I place my brushes in their brush holder on the table. The brush holder is contraption of a brown plastic disc about 5 inches high, 4 inches in diameter and festooned with holes, like swiss cheese. Each brush sits in its own hole.  This way I can see all of them.

I have 25 brushed in total, 12 sable hair brushes in different sizes. Sable brushes are the finest money can buy. Normally I could not afford to buy so many but one day when I walked in my art supply store there was a display of sable brushes on clearance. They were listed at $2.50 and $3.5 each with the original priced listed at $25- $35. I didn’t believe it. I thought they weren’t real sable (you can’t tell unless you paint with them). It didn’t make sense that these brushes, if they were real sable, would be so cheap? Although I didn’t believe they were real sable, I snapped up 12. My heart was beating fast, and my breath was shallow. I felt like I was stealing, something was wrong. I was sure. I expected when I went to cash out they would tell me – No, it was a mistake. These brushes were not on sale Or that they were on sale for $25 each. When I checked out each brush rang out as priced, $2.5 and $3.5.

I went home I looked up the name of the brand and the prices. Sure as shit they were real sable, and some retailed for $35. I had a treasure of brushes that would cost at least $400 normally. I would never be able to afford such an indulgence, but they were mine. I was incredulous. I had bought one small sable brush years before, a tiny thing to do detail work. That brush cost me $14. I was heartbroken when I ruined it but leaving it overnight, bristles down in my paint water. I kept it thinking somehow I could revive it, looking sadly at its curved hairs.

Every time I looked at these brushes to use them I feel the same way, in awe, wholly touched by the luck of the universe. To use them is what you would expect from the best brushes money can buy. These brushes hold more paint than other brushes and make smooth sweeping crisp lines under my control. They are joy in my hand. All of this went through my mind as I picked a brush. I selected a quarter inch round bush. I dripped in burnt sienna, a dark brown paint and watched the miracle of the paint sweeping over the canvas.

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