Friday, April 5, 2013

E - Equine Art And The Last Supper

A to Z Challenge [2013]I almost made this topic E-Elvis.  He is a ghost for most these days.  I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, you see, and each of my parents knew him in their youth.  In fact, The King held me in his arms way back in the day.

Unfortunately, that's all to that E-story, 'cause I don't remember a doggone thing about it.

Here's the real one.

Looking into the mirror, I sometimes see the ghost of my father.

But not when it comes to equine art.

Daddy could draw, and might have made a living as a commercial artist.  He had a knack for shape, light, shadow, form and drew some of the most realistic horses I'd ever seen.  He liked horses and captured them in all kinds of attitudes, at rest, raring up, running across the plains ahead of the wind.  More importantly, he caught the pride, the anger, the yearning of a creature to be free again. 

He never drew the same scene twice.

I loved his horses.

Some time after my eighth birthday in 1965, he came home with a huge box under his arm.  We all asked what it was and he said it was da Vinci's The Last Supper.  What a surprise.  Mom and my teachers had told me that it lived somewhere in Italy, so how did Daddy get hold of it?

"No, no," he said when I asked.  "It's what's called paint by numbers.  It has all the colors I need.  All the brushes.  And the canvas is marked off into grids.  What I do is to look at the number and put the matching color of paint inside, and once it's finished, we'll have The Last Supper to hang in the living room."

Seemed fine to me.  Even at eight, I had heard of the great Leonardo da Vinci.

Daddy worked hard, and I watched.  After just an hour or so, it seemed to my young imagination that this paint by numbers was nothing more than a coloring book for grown ups, and the makers didn't trust them enough to make the color decisions themselves.

Every night for a couple of months, Daddy painted by the numbers.  The work had its own place, too, on a sheet covering the dining room table.  I marveled at his meticulousness.  The man didn't get a speck of paint out of line.  For the first couple of weeks he enjoyed the work, his unconscious smile evident to all, but after awhile his expression reminded me of a friend doing math homework.

Daddy finished, and held it up for all to survey, himself included.

Da Vinci himself couldn't have been more accurate.

"What do you think, Chief?" he asked me.

"I like your horses better."

He nodded.  "So do I."

He took The Last Supper out to the store shed, never to see the light of day again.


  1. Oh my goodness..I remember my Gran doing paint by numbers...she even bought me a couple of sets. When finished, up close they just looked like a bunch of coloured splots. From a distance, they looked fine though....but something always looked sort of unnatural about them. After all, there is really every only one original.

  2. I love Paint by Numbers - they let me think I'm an artist :-)
    Great post, Rockstar.

  3. Love, ""I like your horses better."

    He nodded. "So do I."


  4. Rocky, I can't believe you were held by Elvis!! And of course I love that story about your dad. X


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