The Laser Fiction - A Resplendent Attribute - Part One









In Memory
Sean Pettibone



A Resplendent Attribute

Holding the brush in my hand without expectation conveyed an unexpected sense of confidence. Unleashing a reserve of experimentation, creativity and courage I hadn't realized up to that point. I'd long-prepared for that occurrence, and I looked forward to meeting its unspoken demands. I walked closer and stood across from the canvas at a straight angle. Two contrasting aspects of my task quickly became apparent. There were inherent limitations in the small format and solitary brush, but I knew could handle those constraints. Looking at the white slate from another perspective, I could begin with an empty slate with almost-completely unencumbered options. She didn't place any undue restrictions on the subject, colors, or rendering. Everything that appeared on the canvas would be entirely my doing; lacking any intrusive direction and minimal guidance. The boundaries the materials placed on me acted covertly to coax creativity from dormancy. Without prodding, I decided to begin implementing my ideas. She stood behind me silently, maintaining a respectful remove. At first, I didn't mind the companionship. Gradually, the added pressure inherent in her narrowly-focused, unyielding gaze increased to the point where her relentless scrutiny became unavoidable.

The inherent realization of her looming, inescapable presence achieved the opposite of what she might have been intended. Her focused attention on my work made me nervous and I had to pause. Self-conscious of every small movement, I paused to ponder the ramifications before marking a single stroke on the empty canvas. I'd arrived at a completely the opposite tactic that I'd begun, moving directly from reckless intuition to deliberate enunciation. Without saying a word, her gaze reminded me of the fractious impatience I'd displayed in the past. Taking a constructive approach, I held my hands at my sides and thought ahead. A fortunate bout of procrastination allowed me to contemplate my actions before making a mistake I couldn't correct. The ink and paint would leave a permanent mark. I'd likely regret it if I rushed to fill the emptiness in haste. She turned and walked a pace back, shifting attention briefly to her own works on the opposing side of the room. Her momentary absence allowed me precious space when she was distracted elsewhere. This opening was fortuitous, letting me focus attention on the canvas. This gave me a chance to deliberate. My certitude reformed quickly; any lingering doubts dissolved. I remained steadfast in my determination, but decided not to act impetuously. Stepping backward several inches refocused my gaze towards the empty slate directly in front of me. It had been intimidating, almost frightening, then subsequently invigorating as I gained familiarity and built confidence.

When I changed perspective, it took little effort to grasp the potential while keeping the drawbacks in the background. An uneasy balance emerged, I appreciated the empty sheet of reinforced paper's lack of expectations. I had to transcend my fear of filling it in haphazardly, and making a mess of things, or getting attached to the wrong subject. I had narrowed my options countless paths I could take, yet inherent guidance would be helpful establishing parameters. A creative flow was tempered by a ponderous interruption; which kept my hands at bay awhile longer. I'd have to weight my options for a while longer. I turned around, feeling somewhat stymied and waited for her to respond but she maintained her distance, resolved to non-interference. She remained in the distance, almost hiding in the periphery, standing just outside my immediate field of vision. Remaining detached, she observed unwilling to interfere with the process. I was left to forage ahead completely unaccompanied outside her silent, firmly reinforcing observation.

I turned back towards the canvas, which had changed appearance as my resolve grew. It appeared to be gazing back with a newly expectant , awaiting my approach. I felt a slight pressure building within, and realized I couldn't delay much longer. Taking the brush in my hand and quickly dipping it in paint, I prepared it for its first movement, a serious approach. I stepped forward and took it in my hand firmly, until I managed to make a few tentative marks on the surface. I watched the small spots dry, forging an unexpected discovery. The first strokes appeared splotchy and its uncontrolled bristles were still dripping excessively, extending out in all directions. Elements appeared strategically distanced yet randomly strewn out of context. This made for a messy initial imprint within the small canvas platform that was difficult to define with much detail.

I decided to pause, look things over and correct the course it was taking. I redid small errors and managed to take better control over the brush, smoothing its rough surfaces and broken lines together. This created structured density, aiming and targeting the residual drops of excess splashing paint at the basin beneath the canvas until it's paint began to focus and coalesce near the lower-right section. The brush remained thick and consistent, yet not overly saturated by ink. This made for visible imprints without leading to a splotchy mess. Intuitively, I narrowed its bristle until it was finely formed into a clean tip. I carefully plotted a course, taking enough time to plan and consider the ramifications of each brush-stroke. Estimating how long it would take and the level of detail I'd apply to rendering those aspects was difficult at first, but became easier with practice. I remained determined to implement my initial plan, but disengaged from activity, pausing to carefully plot and measure before moving ahead.

I decided to slow my pacing further and divide the task. Focusing attention on a smaller section, not attempting to draw the entire surface at once. I maintained complete control, but completed the simpler tasks first. This allowed me to get the hang of the brush with minimal risk. The first element was the easiest. I maneuvered the brush and drew a long, somewhat crooked line across the bottom of the surface, marking an uneven horizon and end-point that I could build on later. It help me measure and structure, where I could plot the relative height and width much easier. it was almost like placing points on a map, in some strange way. Building on this element, I drew a perpendicular line across its right side and began sketching a solitary tree towards the side. This would be a good practice figure, something I could quickly paint over if it didn't turn out the way I expected.

I began by recreating the basic form and implementing a rough shadow. It cast seemed uneven, and I had to redraw it several times until it looked acceptable. It took several attempts before I was able to effectively implement the lower trunk's appearance. Looking increasingly life-like, its base began to form thickly at the lower edge, gradually tapered to a narrow center as it grew skyward. Splintered apart on each side, its branches twisted and curved in alternating patterns. Completing the extensions with smaller limbs that lent it balance and weight. These grew from the narrower branches at irregular intervals, but in a conversely natural sequence. It took a few attempts, but I was able to achieve a decent level of structure that appeared somewhat natural. None of the outer branches were particularly straight, this wasn't entirely by design. However, this was an unexpectedly pleasing mistake that gave them a somewhat organic appearance. Examining it closely, I was satisfied that it no longer appeared barren. Deciding to elaborate further, my hands added smaller sub-branches and dangling leaves that extended from its sides, filling-in the tree. After several somewhat meticulous do-overs and looking at it back and forth, it finally began to resemble one of those strange trees we encountered previously. When looking closely, there was a mysterious glow. Surrounding it that I hadn't consciously envisioned or implemented, appearing serendipitously without prompting.

Getting the proportions for its smaller branches and leaves correct was more difficult than it might have appeared, but made a huge difference. Using a single-sized, somewhat clunky brush added to the challenge, but I was determined to accurately mimic their appearance. It took several frustrating attempts and revisions but things finally began to look as they should. I put down the brush once more and found myself unexpectedly satisfied with the results. I was relieved to not have rushed though, giving these seemingly meaningless, yet profoundly important leaves and branches on a small tree. It would appear even smaller against the background once I finished its main subject. But I was determined to give every element in my composition the attention they merited. After some frustration, some interesting techniques came to light. Reducing pressure would make thinner lines, while pressing down on the tool would make them thicker, appearing darker but with less control or subtlety. It was a difficult technique to master, but I was able to implement its balance and intricacies effectively after several attempts. Taking the control of the brush took practice to become accustomed to but the results were promising. Turning around quickly, she looked surprised when I stepped away from in front the painting for a second, She nodded affirmatively and gave my drawing a reinforcing confidence. I'd succeeded in using my instincts to find and correct minor faults, like a stray branch extended too far, taking the time to adjust and calibrate the proportions.

However, there were still some issues. It appeared that the western branches looked more natural on their side since those were completed later, after I learned to use the technique effectively. I was a little disappointed and puzzled how to fix eastern side's flat, monotonous appearance. I turned around again and looked for some help on her part. She resumed her still and silent, apparently reinforcing her detached approach. I knew I'd be better-off eventually uncloaking the inscrutable methodology for myself, but things were moving too slowly.

Determining that there was something missing, I decided not to let them stand in destitution, their surfaces unadorned and static. I decided they needed some kind of energy, but hadn't thought of how to best implement that particular approach. Deciding to add motion and movement to enhance my rendition wasn't easy, but I was able to come up with a relatively quick, yet highly effective solution. Applying a swooshing, blurry motion, gave a wind-blown appearance to the previously static branches. This lent them a livelier appearance that covered their lack of energy. I was surprised that this simple technique created the intended effect with little effort. Adding a blowing-gust through it gave my partially-completed tree an unexpectedly convincing appearance. Somewhat surprised by this accomplishment, I decided not to add anything more to the tree. This represented a good start that managed to create a solid baseline to build from. I could look forward to composing its remaining sections.

The more difficult task ahead was constructing and conveying the main subject of the illustration, I knew ahead of time that I wanted it to consist of a portrait. I was doubtful and thought lacked the talent to or skill do an adequate job in portraying her. I struggled a bit with the conundrum, and couldn't quite find the right angle in my mind. Sneaking a clandestine engagement with her visible appearance, I provisionally turned in her direction to grab a brief, inspiring view. This only lasted a few seconds; I didn't want to give anything away at that point. It helped a bit but didn't solve the problem facing me. Jumping in tentatively, I began working tentatively, sketching the basics while I decided what path my brush would take. I began sketching the outlines of her polka-dot dress without filling it in entirely, attempting to capture an element of her face without much success. I wanted this to be a surprise, and stood in front of the canvas, attempting to block her view. I turned around and was surprised to see that she'd momentarily become distracted again. This time, her attention was turned around in the opposite direction.

Apparently, my progress wasn't fast enough and she was examining the non-functional machines laying on the table closely. I stopped painting for a moment and wondered what she was doing. She stood in front of the table, but I managed to catch her rustling through them. This might have been an attempt to rouse them from a prolonged slumber. It was unclear how long they'd been sitting on the table, but it appeared they hadn't been touched in a long time. Sweeping the accumulated dust off their surface, she shook them around and held them in the air with little visual effect. Her hands and fingers become increasingly frustrated as her efforts to rouse elicited no discernable response. Instead of giving up, the lack of energy on their part only reinforced her resolve. Kneeling down, she made a closer examination of each one. She grasped each of the machines firmly, one-by-one, physically imploring them to awaken from their dormant state. This approach didn't seem to do any good. They remained silent, resolutely non-response, lacking any impetus to come back to life.

I wondered whether they were inherently broken or damaged, and wanted to examine them further. However, I knew it was best to stay out her way. More importantly, focusing on the assortment of afflicted contraptions would distract me from the primary objectives. I needed to stay focused on painting. I looked away from them, returned the still-looming expanse. The objective reasserted itself, taking predominance. The broken machines were intriguing, but I managed to resist their temptation. I watched her turn around and regain her focus. She given up on the busted devices and resumed observing me closely. I was guarded, still looking for meaningful insight that would help me to convey her visage. I moved carefully through side-steps and concealed my objectives. However, it gradually emerged who I was drawing. Determining which facet would be most effective, the opposing approach seemed like it would work best. Instead of staring looking straight-ahead, I figured it would be more interesting if the painting portrayed her standing backwards, her head turned away. Using this counter-intuitive approach let me draw her non-intrusively, protecting her privacy and simultaneously keeping her inscrutable motivation hidden and intact. This allowed me to maintain her privacy, while conveying the mysterious, intangible imprint she held over me. Facing away wasn't an immediately obvious position, but it seemed to capture a small portion her essence while retaining a respectful barrier. Obviously, this was a vastly more complicated and nuanced task than drawing a tree. I worried that excess ambition would fall far short of my capabilities, but felt it was worth making an attempt.

It took an extensive, sustained effort in order to get her proportions right; especially relating to the tree. She wasn't particularly tall and neither was the tree. This made for a somewhat vexing problem, but I was able to ascertain that she was roughly two-thirds the size of the tree. I knew I had to place her at a closer distance. I had to measure and ascend carefully, I didn't want her too close, since she'd look taller than she was. I had to position her in just the right angle, and had to measure the spaces on the either side in order to get the correct proportions. I blocked out several approaches in my mind, and finally arrived at a good standing where she stood at a relative distance. This was harder to implement than I thought it would be, since I didn't have a ruler to use. I had to use my hands to block and measure, which wasn't ideal but seemed to work. In my painting, she was steadfastly holding her position, standing a bit beyond the tree's outer radius. She rose to became the predominant figure, standing tall but didn't overwhelm the remaining elements. After I figured the remaining measurements out and finalized the proportions, the smaller details became much easier to manage. It was an intensive process that I commenced by filling-in her polka-dots, carefully spacing the innumerable accouterments, keeping them a rough, irregular distance from one another. While not perfectly recreating her appearance, the rough approximation effectively represented her mysterious disposition without giving that much away.

I drew her arms at rest, protectively guarding her side and also kept her hands hidden from view. I withheld this aspect of her approach deliberately, hiding sight her actions purposefully. My limited skill-set was be unable to match her frenzied yet deliberate motions with a few brush strokes. It seemed to contradict the open-ended ethos. I had no desire to engage unwelcome attention. Emphasizing other areas was the most effective strategy to defer this highly-visible problem. Her sweeping hair covered her head beautifully, neither too short or long; just a little off-center in order to showcase her unique style. I took some time recalibrating her look, which wasn't easy given the constraints of the smaller canvas and single brush but I figured that I'd maintained enough consistency to make something beyond the obvious effort. It took longer than I'd anticipated, but she deserved the honor.

I took a few minutes to rest and rejuvenate. I'd narrowly completed the basics and stood back for an overarching viewpoint of the piece. The illustration looked good-enough given my artistic limitations, but it still appeared to be discouragingly flat on a inexplicably intangible level. There was something crucial missing. I looked it over repeatedly but couldn't quite place what might've escaped my gaze. I scanned up and down and side to side but couldn't, despite my best efforts, find the piece what I'd overlooked. I waited and closed my eyes, and thought about things that might have slipped my grasp. When they re-opened, I realized that I'd left a large empty space to her right side. Something was definitely there, even though it wasn't visible. I couldn't explain but there was one last addition needed to fill the void. I couldn't quite figure out what the missing element might have been and where exactly it fit within the design.

I spent an inordinate amount of energy on that section of the painting, going over its vacant surface for an extended time, silently imploring and berating it to provide a solution, or even a small clue I couldn't find answers. Attempting to recalibrate and reset my perceptions, I made another odd choice. I blinked and closed my eyes. Uninterrupted, I began focusing on other aspect of her that might have gone unseen. I remembered that she might have been holding something. It was immediately obvious to my mind. Her original machine remained at her side, even though it was cloaked, silent and dormant. This solution arrived almost immediately; the gaping emptiness seemed to fill-in automatically once I remembered. I could now see the hidden object in plain sight. Emerging instantaneously from my sub-conscious, her missing machine completed the picture. Her machine was conspicuously absent and its omission became increasingly prevalent the longer I gazed upon the space where it should have resided. I decided to pick up my brush and began the process of drawing it when I felt an unexpected tap on my back. She'd clandestinely resumed her close guard over me, and was standing directly behind me, watching what I was painting with a tenuous interest and a rising level of concern I hadn't detected previously.

Without realizing it, she was looking over my shoulder even more intently. She looked increasingly nervous while I worked to sketch the machine enhance the drawing. I was surprised that she wasn't entirely happy with my direction and process. I was initially quite disappointed that my strenuous efforts had met with disappointment, I thought she looked mysterious and resplendent in the painting. In reality, she appeared concerned and nervous. I took my brush down and stopped painting, wondering how I'd managed to mess things up when things were otherwise going fine. Despite my intention and concentration, it seemed that I'd fallen short of the standards she expected of me in some undetermined manner. I couldn't understand what I'd managed to do wrong. Upon further glance, I couldn't comprehend what was unexpectedly problematic with the painting. Looking straight at her provided me no answers but I couldn't move on until I knew what her problem was. This sudden anxiety on her part was baffling, and didn't make sense. Wondering why she'd reflexively denied her approval, I stood and waited nervously for her explanation. Help and assistance understanding her motivations was essential; the accompanying encroachment had stopped progress completely, but it wasn't clear what her reasoning entailed.

She stood silently, nearly frozen in place and expressionless. Her distant demeanor was unsettling, but there was a undeniable disappointment. Assuming I knew more than I did, she offered no advice at first. Each passing second in that tenuous state added to my uneasy disposition. I could feel the apparent reproach emanating from her eyes. Her displeasure became undeniable the longer she stood in judgment of my pictured. I waited nervously for and finally worked up the courage to ask what happened. I asked her somewhat meekly where the tension derived. I was fearful of her response to my work, and couldn't help but wonder if it was really that bad. Releasing her frustration, she reluctantly broke her silence. She finally explained where I'd gone wrong, but in an unexpected manner. She walked towards the painting and pointed directly towards the empty void at side that was yearning to be filled, but remained empty. To my eyes the gaping area of white seemed to have grown exponentially, but she had a different perspective. It was actually the most dangerous portion of the painting. This didn't appear logical. I followed her initial comments carefully, despite their odd premise. I intuited that things would coalesce to form a reasonable explanation when she finished her lecture and accompanying admonition.

I watched her move her fingers silently over the painting, pausing again over the empty portion, somewhat dismissively. Despite her explanation, I still couldn't comprehend her motivation, and couldn't unlock her motivations despite my best efforts. I hadn't expected her demand when she was signaling that I was finished, but I acquiesced to her demand. She pointed towards her profile, accompanied by an outlined, blurry tree. This represented a fine effort, in far as showing off my capabilities. Then she reiterated that it would be preferable for me to not proceed with any further elaboration. There was no need for me to add anything more. Her insistence was perplexing, it didn't feel like the painting was finished. I thought she wanted me to paint a complete picture, but even a rough drawing of her light-convergence machine crossed an unspoken line, and wasn't what she anticipated might occur.

She wasn't at ease with what I planned and expressed her displeasure forcefully. She began explaining emphatically that potential elements would be better left unseen. I thought about her directive for a minute, and as I pondered her perspective, the more her decision appeared to be the correct prudent course of action. Things began to converge when I realized that I wasn't only making a painting that could be seen with only our eyes There could be trouble, if there was too much detail and it fell into the wrong hands. A hidden impetus, set in motion by her powerful machine, left unexposed to scrutiny would obviously be more secure. It wouldn't make sense to expose ourselves to needless vulnerability by indicating its existence and design, even in a vague form. If I held back, and restrained from drawing the contraption, it would keep its existence hidden from potentially malicious eyes. Secure in its absence, we wouldn't need to be concerned about its design or construction falling prey needlessly. This remained a distant yet distinct possibility, despite the time we'd taken and distance we'd breached between our current position and any lingering, unanticipated threats lurking outside our hastily-assembled defenses.

More importantly, as I pondered unforeseen consequence, the more I realized something deceptively important. We'd managed to get this far without its help, and adding the machine to my picture would cause a mistaken vulnerability to unfurl. I didn't take long for me to realize omitting the slender, near-miniaturized, meticulously-arrayed light-coalescent machine from her portrait was the correct course of action. She didn't need artificial accouterments, her innate abilities would see us through treacherous entanglements. The machine represented a useful enhancement, but was not inherent to her skill or my talent. She'd manage without its help, either in reality or appearing as a rough sketch inside a painting. I put down the brush firmly deciding against adding it and examines at the painting with a wholly different, inherently guarded perspective. I took a step back into the wavering surroundings. I was surprised to discover the room contained innumerable, previously unseen threats. I spotted numerous opening and vulnerabilities. Paint was peeling from the edges, leaving gaps I hadn't noticed, the floorboards felt permeable while its walls weren't nearly as thick or resilient as I assumed. Attempting to overlook its glaring flaws became untenable, everything in the room had transformed into a potential liability that couldn't be ignored.

The room didn't offer the sanctuary it appeared to, despite its isolation, obscurity and disarming measures. I felt a little afraid, but she reminded me that I hadn't actually breached any promise, now that I knew better, she was confident that I would protect its envisage. Waving towards me with renewed energy, she invited me to join her. I listened to my footsteps, which echoed, but not as loudly as feared. I returned and stood beside her nervously, watching over my shoulder for some any untoward threats. There weren't any and my attention returned to the painting. Observing closely, she took her time examining it for any other detractions. Patiently awaited for what appeared to be her conclusive decision. She considered the piece but kept her own counsel. Not revealing any residual ire to that point, her flat disposition committing to neither additional praise or condemnation. Staring nonchalantly staring at my artistic dispatch; gazing into the backward-facing portrait for an extended period. I wasn't expecting ebullient praise on her part. My painting was too simple and uncomplicated for that, but I was hoping for even the smallest affirmation. I looked back into her eyes and without speaking, tried to convince her to offer some encouragement. She took in the painting, interpreting it for awhile longer and reached an ambiguous conclusion. This severed her repose, causing a temporary break in her detachment to occur. She politely, yet quietly remarked that it was a noble attempt on my end. Her mild praise wasn't much to go on but it was all I needed.

She persuaded me to step back and look at the picture from her perspective. I'd left a lot of things unseen and hadn't really compensated for their absence. The void looked smaller from my perspective, but remained large in her viewpoint. I thought about objects that could possibly fill it, I decided in the end, to follow my instincts and let the blank surface remain untouched. The distance it created added an intriguing perspective on my picture. It's composition remained rough, giving it a unique style that emphasized her undiluted dominion without letting anything intrude on her pre-emptive defensiveness. I felt happy with the results, despite its ragged edges and unpolished look, it maintained consistency and integrity. She accepted my defense, to a degree. The emptiness was visible but not jarring, and worked favorably to give my portrait of her necessary breathing room. I looked over in her direction to see whether she approved, but her non-committal expression didn't give me any further guidance. Despite my reluctance to call it a completed work, she was adamant. She indicated strongly that I was finished, there was no need for further elaboration on my part.

(Continue to part two)