Painting from Life

Painting from Life book cover

Painting from Life is a short story about an artist who discovers that his muse is not at all what he expected. Indeed, love is never what you think. When a painter goes beyond the degree of intimacy that provides the connection between him and his newly-discovered muse, he is forced to undergo a re-evaluation of the true meaning of love.

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“More emotions are evoked in this short, haunting story than many longer works I’ve read in recent months. It gets classified as a love story, or a GLBT piece in many places I’ve seen it discussed, but I’m reluctant to so easily define it. The relationship between the painter and Peter, the elderly man, isn’t nearly that cut and dry ... Nothing sexual ever occurs, but the narrator finds energy and passion in his work with Peter as he never has before. Peter, in turn, cannot bring himself to characterize their relationship as anything familial (when asked if he trusts the narrator, Peter responds with, “Like a son ... No, better than a son.”). The give and take between the two satisfies needs in both of them. There is some dark subtext, however, suggesting that the narrator (as artist) is draining away Peter’s life (as muse), but in all honesty, it didn’t overshadow the relationship as I read it ... The complexity of the relationships is served amazingly well by the lyrical, edgy prose. It offers just the right amount of clear, original detail to paint a picture with words, without getting excessive or too artsy, and intrigues me into pursuing more of the author’s work. Strong, original voices are like gold. This one pays off.” [Read the rest of this review from BookUtopiaMum on the Book Utopia site]

“This short story is haunting, intense, and unlikely. At just about 15 pages, the author has delivered a stunningly gripping story about an artist and his obsessions. From the hints of the past such as the history between the artist and his wife and the wife’s caustic comments, the author suggests that the unnamed artist may often find these unlikely muses and devote more time than is healthy to them. Similarly, the artist slowly and inevitably becomes the sole caretaker of an older man, Peter, while using the man as a model for his work that is only now gaining success. The author manages to use just a few words and descriptive phrases to convey intensity and emotion that is clearly felt ... The implications and subtle meaning go far beyond the obvious and continue to resonate well after the short story is done. Crisp, vivid prose works incredibly well with vibrant characters all uninhibited by the short length. For those that enjoy a fabulous short story that truly makes you think and leaves you wondering well after it’s done, I highly suggest Painting from Life. The themes of art, death, obsession, love, selfishness, and need are all played out beautifully in this complex and complicated story.” [Read the rest of this review from Kassa on the Manic Readers site]

A review from Val Kovalin on the Obsidian Bookshelf review site

A review from Ann Somerville on the Outlaw Reviews site

© Keith Olding 2011