By Wit & Whitby
[Complete] Natural Beauty - Printable Version

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RE: Natural Beauty - Nesah Meijer - 09-29-2020

When the waiter was gone, Nesah turned back to Douglas. "Can I see your portfolio?" she asked. She had liked the charcoal and she was interested to see what made him so special that he could exhibit his work in London.

RE: Natural Beauty - Douglas Gordon - 09-29-2020

At her request, he raised a brow.  He nodded and reached down to bring up the portfolio notebook and opened it to bring out several drawings he had been working on over the last few days.  Some were a study of the faces of people he saw in the lobby while he sat there just relaxing.  Various expressions, happy, sad, worried, angry, etc.  Some were studies on hands, old, young, busy, or at rest.  These were several faces on each page and several pages of it.  The same with the hands. 

The full page drawings or most of the page were of scenes in town with the poor area showing how it really was, but with the poverty with the contrasting of something showing playing children or a couple of women chatting holding laundry baskets with happy faces.  Another one had an older man being helped to push a cart by a much younger man.  The effort seen there in their expressions and the way their bodies were struggling.  Others were scenery out of the ruins again capturing the sense of history that was there.   Then a drawing he had drawn of very small children playing on the beach.  The of course the two he had done earlier when he had met Nesah again.

RE: Natural Beauty - Nesah Meijer - 09-30-2020

Nesah looked at the different pictures, flipping through them carefully, so as not to smear the charcoal. She could not decide whether she liked them. He was good at drawing, alright, but the images were so ordinary, Nesah could hardly imagine what could be special about them. And yet there was something captivating about them that she couldn't quite explain.

She closed the portfolio and handed it back to him. "They're good," she commented. "But why draw such scenes as these?"

RE: Natural Beauty - Douglas Gordon - 10-01-2020

He took the portfolio back and put it back down below his chair.  At her question, he thought back to the dark drawings he had done back years before.  His expression going a bit dim thinking of the front line.  He could talk about it now, though even now, it was hard.  He had been asked the question before, but usually, they did not really want to know, they just asked because it was expected.  He had learned to give some brief meaningless answer like, 'it called tae me'.  But Nesah, seemed to really want to know, so he told her.

"When I was younger, someone saw some of my drawings and paintings and asked if I would join 'im along the front line tae send back images and nae just words tae the newspapers.  Young as I was, I thought it would be an adventure."  He gave a shrug.  "And it was, at first.  I drew what I saw and made it 'real' tae those that got the papers.  Troops getting ready for their first time going out.  Men younger than I was.  Sitting there laughing, playing cards, getting the rifles ready... that kind of thing." 

He traced his finger along the table for a moment.  "I was getting all kinds of compliments from the newspaper readers sent via various people.  More of the young men wanted to have a drawing to send to their lass or home to the family.  I was making a name of myself around London, through England and then beyond there.  It went tae my 'ead."  He gave her a wry look.

"Then we got to the 'real' line front.  Men in pain.  Maimed.  Dying.  Dead."  He looked out at the dining room away from Nesah for a moment to gather himself, just seeing some of the images in his mind.  "I sent those images to the papers tae.  Some were tae much for them, but many ended up in the papers.  For me though, I was capturing it all.  I did it for two years."  He paused again.  "Then I saw one of the young lads, that I had gotten to draw back at the beginning.  One wanting tae send a drawing back 'ome tae 'is lass.   Then another.... and another."  He looked up at the ceiling and rubbed his lips.

"I couldnae draw any more.  Nae a thing.  I could nae pick up a pencil nae a brush, naething.  I broke down.  They said I just got sick, but it was more than that.  I was broken inside."  He admitted it without shame.  Just saying it.  "I was sent back 'ome and just sat on the highest cliff up in the highlands I could find.  Just trying to take it all in and try and wash out the other images.  I didn't draw or sculpt for aboot a year.  I couldn't."

"Then I saw some local wee small bairns.   Just playing in the dirt and laughing.  Smiling.  I felt the urge to sculpt those 'appy faces and finally I slowly began tae create again.   Looking for life."  His eyes lit up again as he thought about some that he now drew and painted.  "Even in darkness and poverty, laughter and joy.  Looking for a rich older woman scolding a young couple that paused a task to laugh and joke."  He looked to Nesah.  "Beautiful scenes that are not covered with pain and death, but rather the colors of the beginning or the ending day to rest."

"Women working and yet finding a moment to pause and laugh.  A young lad helping an old man push a cart, showing heart is still oot there.  A strong woman facing the weather or wandering through the ruins of the past as if looking for the path to the future."  He gave a short smile.  "Looking beyond the dark things and looking for something to draw to the lighter things though it can be 'ard and nae easy tae find.  I draw and paint things that bring emotions, show life be it mourning or joy, strength, or a moment of weakness.  Or scenes that draw an emotion to me.  Like the ruins."

RE: Natural Beauty - Nesah Meijer - 10-01-2020

Oh dear, Nesah certainly hadn't been prepared for this soliloquy, nor for this oversharing. Just her luck, always ending up trapped with someone with issues. She felt uncomfortable and glanced toward the window. She couldn't really excuse herself now, but she felt like a fool for accepting the invitation.

"Well..." she said awkwardly when he was finally done. "I'm glad you found something that gives you joy..." The man's overly familiar speech had made her anxious. What if he was insane and now he was fixated on her and wanted to kill her or something?

RE: Natural Beauty - Douglas Gordon - 10-01-2020

"Aye."  Seeing her reaction, he realized he had misread that her question had meant actual interest.  She was just another of the group that would just ask because it was what was expected to be asked.  He leaned back and nodded as the waiter brought their tea.  He stirred his tea silently.

RE: Natural Beauty - Nesah Meijer - 10-01-2020

Nesah avoided his eye and looked across the room, waiting for the waiter to bring the order, so that she could eat and go. She imagined how Zech would either ridicule her or scold her if he knew she was in this situation.

RE: Natural Beauty - Douglas Gordon - 10-01-2020

Sipping the tea, Douglas thought of a few other locations that he had planned to set up his easel.  If the weather stayed winding, he'd be working on setting up the cottage studio instead of painting, he reasoned.  He also had some letters to return to some of his contacts in London as well as back in Scotland.  He had decided to have his valet come on from London to Whitby.  He could forget to do tasks for basic living when he was involved in a painting. 

When the food came in from the kitchen, Douglas again smiled and nodded to the waiter.  Putting the napkin over his knee, he took a bite of the open sandwiches.  He looked across at the woman.  "Why did you ask why I chose those scenes?"  He asked before taking another bite.

RE: Natural Beauty - Nesah Meijer - 10-02-2020

Nesah was confused when her dish arrived. She had ordered eggs, not... it looked like meatballs. She picked up her cutlery and cut one open to see what it was. There was indeed an egg inside, but there was meat around it, and it had a funny, suspicious smell.

When Douglas spoke to her, she was still looking at her plate rather concerned. She looked up shortly. "They seemed so ordinary. I thought art was supposed to reflect beauty..."

RE: Natural Beauty - Douglas Gordon - 10-04-2020

He held back a chuckle seeing her expression on the plate before her.  "Nae what yu were thinking when yu ordered?" He asked.  "I can trade with yu if yu would like."  He offered.

Then he replied to her comment.   "There is beauty when yu are willing to look for it, or not and miss something amazing.  Something really missing in fact and for some of those in high society, it is tragic that they dinnae even realize what they are missing."  He took a sip of his steaming tea. 

"A lass falling in love with a lad as they talk o'er a fence.  A mother's love while she 'angs linens nearby as the bairn plays with sticks and grass.  The laugher of those women working on the beach I saw earlier.  An ancient noble woman reaching down and joining in the babbling chat of a wee lad, that touch between the generations that can only be shared briefly before one is gone.  Moments.  Special moments that if you don't watch, are fleeting and then gone.  Joy in the face of the it extraordinary or mere ordinary people... that is a treasure that some miss out on  and that I don't wish tae ever again.  That is what I want tae share, and 'ave been."

"When was the last time yu've watched a wee bairn find joy in a puppy?  The tinkling laughter when the puppy licks their cheek?"  He smiled thinking of such a child he had seen the day before.  Then looked at her again. 

"There is also beauty in death."  His voice holding less enjoyment.  "A tribute tae the soul that 'ad once been there, to capture it sae that others can remember or just tae recognize... 'ey I lived...I mattered."  His eyes dimmed thinking of some of those drawings.  "Laying there as if begging that someone notice.  I noticed."  He said more softly then drew himself back into the moment... the present.

"I dinnae draw those any more.  But they tae 'ad beauty."  He glanced out at the mostly empty dining room.  "The ruin the stories it could tell, what stories 'ave we lost to 'istory?  What dae we lose oot on because we dinnae record it.  Those are beautiful mysteries that I work tae capture for myself because it is my tribute to the beauty that had once lived there, and seems others want tae as well."  He shrugged.  "Sae I share them well many of them."  Some he did not.  There were some that held the darkness still that he fought.  The wasted lives that he could not deal with seeing any longer.  No, he would rather look for the small beauties and joys.