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I would love a strong critique on this one.

“Tedious”, Joanna thought. “Art class is for painting, not this!”

Mr. Benedict’s voice droned as he held up a color wheel for illustration.

It was Sir Isaac Newton who first developed the circular concept of color. For example green is a secondary color that is a mixture of two primary colors, blue and yellow.

As a senior majoring in math finely tuned logic gave her the edge that kept her at the top of her class. Yet her mind was havoc with thought that could seek no remedy in numerical expression. An art elective was a first step on a path of self discovery.

Fidgeting she gazed from her window seat at the bouncing patterns of shade. The arrangement of the Mackintosh leaves was meticulous on the slope bordering the gently flowing watercourse, as was the landscape sultry with its beckoning ripe ruby apples. From every class at every possible angle it goaded, “What are you doing here ?”

Here today was art class. Yet she felt anxious and with her little experience she sat far from the others who appeared to have little use for her.

Turning back she was startled. Intense dark pupils sporting black eye liner met her own. A young man with a glistening brunette ponytail dressed in a muscle shirt and jeans was seated beside her.

“Did you just join this class?” she asked

“You could say that, ” came the vague response. He examined her lily white dress of lace that flowed loosely to just above the knees displaying slender tanned legs.

“Now black is deceiving. It is not a color but the absence of color.”

There were five tiny studs of various shapes in the earlobe of the young man and another was flashing on his tongue as he said, “I like to paint on black canvas.” He raised both his eyebrows adding. “Start with nothing and see what happens.”

“You’re fond of black,” she said wryly.

“Black canvas is the ultimate under painting. Today we will work with black canvas.”

“Ooh- Feisty you are Miss ….., ” he replied.

“My name is Joanna.”

“Pleased to meet you Joanna. You can call me black.”

For this first project I will need you in pairs. After you collect your supplies, we will walk down to the river to start the paintings.

“It’s kismet,” Black said as he stood up holding out a hand.

Mystified she found the offer of its largeness alluring, yet maintained her own arms firmly planted at her sides. Once again he raised both eyebrow and tilted his head. Then he walked towards the supply section. She followed noting from behind the overstated swagger of his tall frame.

“Are you good at this?” she asked him.

“They say I have a magical flair,” he said turning back with an exaggerated movement. In silence he pointed towards the canvas for her to carry, then took the rest of the needed provisions and led the way.

They walked outside on the footpath bordered by the velvet grass and bouncing shade. The heat of the sun caused her skin to bead as she followed him down the slope and along the stream. He must have noted her sighing when he called out, “If you had taken my hand you would have enjoyed this so much more.”

“I don’t hold the hand of strangers,” she said. “Besides you scare me.”

He stopped in front of a well sized flat stone of shale and pointed towards its smooth surface. “This is to be our spot Ms White.”

She looked at him. He looked at her. “Come on. Lay down here. Put your back on the rock, and cross your legs.”

This time she did not oppose his request, and the surface of the shale was cooling on the V opening of the small of her back. She saw hilarious asinine shapes jumping and teasing in the sky. Her lace dress fall back revealing a large portion of thigh.

Black grinned. “if you want to cool off some more, you can lift the dress higher.”

“I hope you have no intention of drawing me nude.”

"Is that what you want Ms. White? "

“Isn’t that what devils do?” She ventured.

“Humans dress like angels and blame devils,” he murmured.

Mr. Benedict walked towards them and paused briefly to make an assertion.

Now take that white dress. White is the summation of all the colors.

“The role of the devil is never to intervene. Just tempt. Alternate paths perhaps.” She noted that he was setting up his easel quite deftly for a man whose eyes were blinking rapidly at the sky above.

Tiny droplets fell.

Her face paled as she looked at him. “I’m getting wet,” she whispered.

His eyes flickered over her weakened position yet he continued with his talk.
“Free will. Always free. The decision is yours.”

Soon his hands unscrewed one of the sparkling studs from his ear. He held it between his index finger and thumb. Rainbow colors refracted additional beauty to the perfect scene. “Amazing don’t you think?”

“Again with what we learned in grade school. Tell me something I don’t know.”

“What I am telling you, you must consider carefully, ” he said as he unscrewed yet another stud. Sing songy was his tune as he continued.

"Character is color and color does show.
At the end of the day what shade shall glow?"

He soon dipped the stud in black paint and and she could see from the movement of his hand that he formed two abrupt lines down the center of his drawing space.

Black on black?” It seemed odd to her.

“We have no action yet, “ he said. “Actions color. Temperaments color.”

“This is a still life. You want me to dance?” For the first time she giggled.

“You’re the one who wants to dance, “ he said eyeing her. He nodded and nodded some more in a mannerism she was coming to expect.

She became silent. He knew too much. Just then she heard a powerful rumble and felt the kiss of the sun no more. In the sky two huge masses of black were approaching each other. Cloud after cloud of smoke was filling the sky. One after the other they formed two straight lines to what seemed to be a roadway.

She felt nervous. “What about thoughts? Are they part of character as well?”

“Perhaps more powerful in contributing to the shade of a person. Even more so if...”

He paused and looked at the sky.

“If what?” she was intrigued now.

“If expressed. If you write, paint..”

It was a third stud he used to pick up the color of gold. His hands seemed to be stirring on the canvas.

A circle of gold was the first in a chain growing from the roadway in the sky.

This chain reached down and the last link surrounded her right wrist and yanked. In one jerking motion, she was in mid-air.

“what are you doing to me?” she asked, “And who are you?”

Soon her opposite hand was hooked and she was forced to stand.

She was adament. “Who are you?”

“Testing testing one two three...”

The links unclamped yet she remained elevated. It was an astonishing feeling as she wobbled and stood upright. Compelled she turned towards the road.

He nodded. “You want this. You did not fall.”

She stopped and turned back. “It’s awfully dark. Whose path is this?” she whispered.

“Anyone, ” he said. Anyone with desire.”

She nodded.

“Every ride is different you know. Rides differ.”

She nodded again. Then twirled and for an ephemeral moment a rainbow of color radiated from her dress.

She looked into his kohl lined dark eyes. “Will I be able to return?”

He looked away. “Some things are not for me to say.”

She proceeded down the path as he put away his easel and acrylics. He then polished his studs with turpentine dipped cotton but Joanna saw not.

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The following comments are for "The Golden Link"
by greatsmile

White and Black
In all, this works. There is some polishing I would do though.

Commas after 'math' in P4, and after 'Fidgeting' in P5.

P6: I don't understand the first sentence. The second feels awkward. '...with her little experience...' How about something like: 'Her inexperience made her anxious, so she sat away from the others. They reciprocated by ignoring her.'

I wouldn't describe a young man as 'brunette'

When Black introduces himself, it's not capitalized.

I didn't understand this phrase: 'Mystified she found the offer of its largeness alluring,' In the same sentence: 'her own arms' is redundant.

'stone of shale' is redundant.

'Her lace dress fall back...' should say 'fell'

'Black on black?' is missing an open quotes

“Anyone, ” he said. Anyone with desire.” is missing an open quotes after 'said'

In more general terms, I didn't get a sense of why this happened to Joanna. Why Black picked her over anyone else. I'm also very curious about what this path is that Black has offered and why she chose to take it.

I hope this is helpful greatsmile. Cheers. -Philo

( Posted by: philo [Member] On: July 10, 2005 )

thank you so much
I truly appreciate the careful consideration of this critique. It is extremely helpful, especially your comment on why this happened to Joanna. It happened because she is the one who needs to expereince life at another level. But if it is not obvious from the story I will have to change it.

Actually the whole critique is very much appreciated. Thank you.

( Posted by: greatsmile [Member] On: July 11, 2005 )

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