When Sweetheart of the Rodeo posted about artwork by Henry Clive, I just knew I had to do a story on one of his paintings. They're exactly the kind of artwork I love, gorgeously colourful and romantic; they seem to have a sense that the artist was completely caught up in the world he was imagining, which I think is important in any kind of art.
This is what I wish I looked like when I'm writing, although the expression on her face is probably pretty accurate :p
"Sultana" 1925, the picture the story is based on.
I wrote this in about 15 minutes in a rather manic mood, so it's a bit different to my normal style. This was one of those stories where the character takes control of your fingers and won't let go until you've finished. I don't know why this specific character developed; I suppose it was just an amusing contrast to the elegant serenity of the picture ;p
I've always liked art. Silly, I know, for a girl in my position. Art's not really something I should be interested in; it's for ladies of more money and taste than me. But such beauty, such colours, elegance, romance; it makes my life better. I visit the museums on a Sunday afternoon (when I can afford it) and just sit and watch the paintings. It's proper calming, you should try it.
I'd heard of Henry Clive, of course - who hasn't, these days? Not in the big fancy museums, but on the front of practically every magazine cover you see. Don't see why that makes him any less of an artist, though, whatever people say. He picked me out in the street, you know. Said he needed someone with long blonde hair, and was finding it difficult these days, when everyone's having their hair bobbed right, left and centre. I was thinking of it myself, but of course I'm glad I didn't now.
I got to his studio place, excited - I was going to disappear into a wonderful world of colour and romance and beauty, I was sure. He told me he wanted a nude - it didn't bother me, what with no husband or family to care. I don’t think it’s that scandalous, anyway, you see all them ladies in the museums with no clothes on. If it didn’t bother the great painters two hundred years ago, I don’t see why we should bother about it now. It’s only a painting anyway, no-one would know it was me.
But what do you know, it was quite boring! I was a bit disappointed - it wasn't at all glamorous. Hours sat in the same position, not a comfy one neither, with only a silk drapey thing covering me. I was bloody freezing. One arm was out stretched to the side, and he said he'd paint a dove there, perching on my finger. I was supposed to be an Eastern princess, or maybe a harem lady - I'd sort of tuned out, he kept banging on about the context so much. I was wearing some pretty sandals though, so I suppose I must have been rich; I thought they were all barefoot out there in the colonies.
My muscles were aching for days after each sitting, it was that hard work. Who'd have thought it, just sitting around being painted like a lady was so tiring? I'd always thought it was lazy way of making a living, personally. Give me a decent floor to scrub any day.
I saw the final picture, in the calendar, and it was gorgeous - all colours, and flowing drapes and such. He'd put a beautiful palace in the background through the window, and made it all mystical and magic. I certainly didn't look bored or uncomfortable. He'd made me a proper beauty.
He gave me one of the little sketches he'd made at first, but coloured it in and such until it looked like the actual thing. It's pinned on my wall now. Who'd have thought, me, a pin-up?
The calendar's proper successful, too. I didn't tell anyone I was in it - I don't know what they'd say. They don’t know about my liking for art neither. They’d probably laugh at me for being such a wet blanket over a bit of paint. I know people’d talk about the painting, some might say it’s shameful and undignified, and I might lose my situation. It’s probably best to keep it to myself.