A crisp character stares back at me, mockingly. It’s Gluttony, a relatively round man devouring a hamburger, and all I can think is “Damn, I’m hungry.”
I wish I could say that while painting, I could feel the souls of Van Gogh and Magritte coursing through my veins, powering my paintbrush, but unfortunately I’m thinking of food most of the time. And riddles. Food and riddles. So once, while I sat at the dining table (eating) and thought (of riddles), a pure idea came in like an arrow, hitting my brain and infecting me with a rush to get up and run over to my canvas to paint. I wanted so badly to figure out a way to create a collection of paintings that I’d be proud of for years to come. (Also – between us – the walls of my house were looking pretty bleak and some colorful paintings would surely spice things up.)
So, glad to have been hit by inspiration, I hustled over to my room, sandwich in hand, and laid out on the floor the woolen orange blanket that I so often sat on while painting. It was covered with streaks of green, yellow and red paint. I smiled and began to size up my idea on the canvas. The graphite traveled over the ridges of canvas and sketched an outline before I even had time to take control and overthink.
My idea was to create the sins. Yup. All seven of them. Each on a canvas the size of a seven year old child. I wanted to paint them using the artistic “voice” that I’d found over the summer at the Cooper Union Summer Program.
It was so invigorating to finally be able to pick up a brush and know exactly what to do with it. My collection began. The end of August was made up of late nights, dying in the absence of cool air (my AC decided to not work) and painting until my wrist creaked like an old door. September followed suit, slowly becoming colder and colder with each passing day. And as the days grew colder, I would slip on more and more sweaters to accidentally leave streaks of paint on. Finally, at the beginning of October, the pieces began to come to a slow and steady stop. I had painted Lust, a woman wearing a lace bra and sucking on a lollipop. Gluttony, a round man with an even rounder sandwich in his hands. Envy, a slightly hunchbacked woman with a sneer plastered to her face.
Sloth, a woman leaning against the side of the canvas, half-asleep.
Pride, a former king, stripped of everything. Greed, a miserly brood with a couple dollars clenched in his fist. And lastly, Wrath, an old man who’d lived through many fights and feuds, ready to make that number grow. It was a beast of a project, but when I’d finished, the happiness I felt far surpassed that of when I ate a sandwich. For sure.