Leo looked at the canvas, disappointed. It was nothing but stark soul crushing empty space. The whiteness of it mocked him, the seconds turning into minutes, and the minutes dripping into hours with the slow melody of a wasted evening.
The apartment was dimly lit. His guests always thought it was part of his artistic mystique. It wasn't. It was simply cheaper to light his apartment with the cheap weak lights scattered throughout the colorful apartment. The blues and greens of last week’s exercise in futility were still decorating the floor of the apartment, just under the newspapers that weren't quite skilled enough to catch the paint with open black and white arms.
Kate left him. She wasn't coming back. Leo had broken too many promises, delved too deep in the living pit of artistic oblivion. Her time away had brought him a sharper focused lens into the world, at the expense of his felicity. Leo was finally ready to work again.
If only there was another way to reach the tipping point of self-destruction without having to fall so fully. Leo knew that other artists were able to reach their nirvana state without the use of falling to the lowest point available. Leo also knew that he wasn't other artists.
Leo took off his shirt and looked in the mirror. The tattoos covering his arms, chest, and back looked fresh and vibrant in the dim light. None of them were anything close to fresh but the look was a very good sign. It meant that he had reached the proper state of mind to be ready.
Leo picked up his brush and dipped it into his ink. The first stab entered his left arm, right below the bicep. It entered into the ornate tree colored into his arm. The green dripped out on the brush and Leo began to paint with his new color. The ink, now drained from the tree, swirled on his arm and changed to a different shade of green. No two colors would ever be the same during one session. That was simply the way of things.
Another stab into a stunning blue found on Leo’s lower back. A beautiful sky on the canvas was starting to take shape. Each wound filling with the paint needed for his craft, before flesh filled up with a new color for the taking. Leo’s art was more painful than most, but Leo found colors on his body that were impossible to find anywhere else. Something about the paint of his soul resonated in a way that simply couldn't be reproduced.
Isaac wanted to sell Leo’s paintings for more money. He thought he could get thousands for them. One piece he even said he could get a million. It was silly of course. Nobody would actually ever pay that much money. Or would they? Leo stared up at the painting above his fireplace.
It was the only piece he ever kept. The one that Isaac thought could sell for a million to the right collector. It was a picture of an ex-girlfriend named Janice. He painted her with the red hues near his heart, the apple, the bull fighter’s cape, the little wagon, and the musculature shined through in a haunting way that both excited and frightened Leo. The painting was that rare mixture of beautiful and grotesque and Leo loved it far more than he ever loved Janice.
Leo shook his head and went back to work. He stabbed the brush into his right arm, taking away the brown bear’s fur and bringing it to the canvas. The landscape was forming bit by bit, each dead tree clinging to find relevance in a bleak canvas that reflected Leo’s mood.
He really liked Kate. She was fun, artistic, and a great kisser. Unfortunately she also didn't really get him. She thought the tattoos were just a quirk and thought his obsession with color was just weird. Of course he couldn't really blame her for not understanding that he needed color like others needed air.
It really didn't make sense to anyone else. Only Violet ever understood him and she was dead.
The thought of Violet turned Leo’s mood even darker. He stabbed into the patch of purple just above the surgery scar on the left side of his chest. He pulled out the color and added it to the now night sky. The painting was becoming darker and bleaker every moment.
He thought of Lilly and smiled. She always had that effect on him. He pulled some bright yellow from his left hand. She tried to help him find another way. He almost found a new path with her. However, just like with Kate he fell. The darkness embraced him and his art thrived at the sake of his inner peace.
Leo started to paint some bright yellow flowers in the center of his dark landscape.
The yellow flowers then led to more bright colors plucked from out of his skin. Soon the dark skies were not so dark and the landscape was no longer a dark Gothic reflection of Leo’s darkest memories. Instead, something different was creeping into his thoughts. It was a new chance. It was a a chance for something more pure.
Art did not have to only represent suffering. Leo stopped painting and looked in the mirror and his hundred tattoos. Each represented a different color, a different shade of life. However, at the end of the day each color was losing meaning.
He looked at the painting and the new colorful beauty found within it. Darkness was still present but there was a light, a beacon of hope, not present before. He knew what he had to do.
He picked up the phone and called Kate.