The technical definition of a muse is (noun) (in Greek and Roman mythology) each of the nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences. Synonyms: inspiration, creative influence, stimulus or stimulation. A person (not limited to feminine) or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist. One Muse; Two Muses or Two Musae.
Sometimes our Musae are people, someone who inspires us to climb that mountain, but sometimes we have muse moments. It’s only the romantics among us that make these personifications Siren Goddesses, but sometimes there are moments; a heated glance between two people, a far-away look on a woman’s face, forbidden hands that touch in the green grocer. Whatever your inspiration, pay your respects, sacrifice with gratitude, honour the musae …
There is nothing as cold as an art studio in the middle of winter! All of those beautiful lines that attract you to the space in the warm glow of the sun; high ceilings, large windows that allow in the natural light, silent open spaces, seem to unsympathetically chill you to the bone in the dead of winter. But nothing would keep me from my Wednesday night art class. Nothing! Not even my inability to draw.
Regardless, here I am … dressed in six unsexy layers of warm clothing, enduring the freeze – not even the cold anymore – would stop me from nurturing this flame and seeing … him. Mason Steward – my art lecturer and the man that I have secretly loved for so long.
While I have been told everyone can be taught to paint, I am challenging the theory! I started art classes 6 years ago as my initial escape from my terminal marriage. One evening a week, I could escape for 2 or 3 hours and immerse myself in something that I’m terrible at, an exhilarating uncomfortable space – I never felt more alive!
I can’t draw to save my life or anyone else’s for that matter, but I love colour and acrylics and the richness of the textures and I’m observant and even though I know my talents lie elsewhere, I felt inexplicably directed to this class… even before I met the lecturer. Adult education evening-classes bring together the most wonderful assortment of eccentric people and personalities, people you would never normally meet in like-minded places. So for the first time in years, I was excited. Excited about starting art classes. I had invested in the required utensils and stepped into my first class.
I was early, so me, but I wanted to immerse myself in every aspect of this first little step to my freedom (and maybe I might have wanted to get out of the house before Steve got home from work). It was early evening at the start of summer and the large open space was bright with white-wash and large windows. The room was set-up for eight easels, with a small table next to each easel, with a larger tea & coffee table set-up against the wall. Three students had already arrived and they were speaking to a tall, dark-haired man, who had his back to the door. Tentatively taking a deep breath, I entered the room, Mason turned around giving me his full attention. I stopped abruptly and realized I wasn’t breathing. Moments passed and eventually my brain kicked in. Breathe! Mason walked towards the door and extended his hand to take my art-bag. As he took the bag from me, we unintentionally touched, which sent sensation recoiling through both my hand and Mason’s arm. We felt it. He had my attention! “Come inside” he said slowly. Absentmindedly I was rubbing my hand, where the sensation entered my body. This man was attractive – to say the least – but there was more, he was mid to late 40’s, dressed semi-casually in chinos and a golf-shirt that covered the expanse of his broad chest and shoulders. He wore a Tag, Italian tan shoes and he was about 5 or so inches taller than me. He had warm green eyes and hair that used to be jet black in his youth but now there were one or two grey hairs at his temples that showed, together with the slightest lines at the corners of his eyes, that life had had her way with him.
That was 6 years ago. And over those 6 years we had been restrained, controlled, polite, particularly Mason at my attempts at art, we had chatted and drunk a few cups of coffee after class, learned about each other, we had celebrated 6 birthday’s and 6 Christmas’ together – with the rest of the class and a few more other memorable events with the other attendees, but mainly we had worked really hard at skirting the attraction that was palpable when Mason and I were together. Mason was married to a powerful business woman who kept him in Italian shoes and fed his art habits but left him regularly in pursuit of the next deal. I divorced 4 years ago and for a moment I entertained the pity party, but not anymore.
This evening, its cold and we are working with watercolours which I loathe, because they are all drawing and technique – both of which I am terrible at – but compared to that first year … I am getting better… barely. Because my art project isn’t speaking to me, my eyes watch Mason with the other students, kind, tutorial, generous and gorgeous, as he talks perspective and proportion. I smile as I realize his words are lost on me and yet I’m still here, in the cold with not even a kiss once in those 6 years. But I have heard and remembered every word he has ever said to me, I could listen to him read the phone book. His words hint at a deep sadness, that tugs at my chest. He is smiling now at Agnes our 83 year old gusto-granny who finally got to art class when she turned 80. Mason is kind with her and again the ache in my chest tugs. He moves onto Gerald, Gerald is our accountant that is indulging his secret passion and they get into a beautiful discussion around technique and brush strokes. I better get back to my landscape. Trying to encourage my landscape to appear horizontally instead of vertically I am willing the colour onto the paper.
I can feel him before I hear him. Silently Mason stands behind me, observing. I can’t turn round.
The pull between us is physical, as Mason stands just a little too close to me to observe the landscape. I can hear his heart beating and feel his breath on my neck playing with a loose strand of my blonde hair that tumbles down my neck. I can’t move. I’m just enjoying this moment and he smells so good, I can smell his fragrant scent, something strong, spicy and manly. Just for a moment I thought I could feel his hand on my hip as he gently moves me over and I move to the left under the insinuation of his hand.
“Beautiful as always Christy” Mason says quietly, just to me – I’m not sure anyone in the class can hear him.
I try to manage an uncontrollable need to laugh, realizing he must be inebriated. I turn to look up at him with disbelief in my eyes, realizing he isn’t looking at the landscape. I catch my breath and blush.
Enjoying the moment, a wicked smile creeps across my face as I cock my head to one side and coyly ask “do you think I am getting better?” looking up at Mason with big eyes.
Now unable to stop, he smiles broadly and flashes me that beautiful smile, that I don’t see often enough “without a doubt, money well spent all of these years Christy” he says turning his head to try to find my landscapes best side.
“You lie badly Mason” I say laughing.
“I wasn’t lying about the beauty” he suddenly says seriously.
I think my heart has stopped … and I don’t know what to say to that, so I turn to the painting to plan my next stroke.
Again I can feel his breath on my neck and for a moment I am lost in that sensation, feeling the heat coming off his long hard body, too close to me.
“Can you feel it” he whispers into my ear “the power, the pull?”
“Yes” I say mesmerized and my cheeks flush.
Moving right up against me, pressing his hard body against me so he can lean over me to take my right hand holding the brush into his right hand to guide a slow and purposeful stroke that changes the scene on paper and in a moment and a sentence all of the landscape is changed as he whispers “I am not sure how much longer I can deny this”.