Francesco Vetro lifted his head from his hands, and let out a loud groan. He stared vehemently at the blank canvas before him. Why was it so difficult for him to paint? Hailed as “One of the greatest artists of the century”, he had dozens of his works displayed in world renowned galleries; and a great deal of pressure to create only the best. But lately he couldn’t seem to paint anything. I’m just going through a block. Is what he’d said to his close friends and colleagues. But it wasn’t that…not quite. The real reason he couldn’t paint was simple, yet great. Do my paintings mean anything? Was something he thought often. Does anyone understand my work? But he could not find a simple answer. This crippling doubt seemed to sap away any inspiration, the ideas he’d had just didn’t come anymore. Perhaps it’s time I retire. He thought with a sigh. Could he really just stop painting? He remembered something his art professor once told him years ago.
“Francesco, why are you here?” his professor asked him one evening after everyone else had left the studio.
“What do you mean?” he asked, looking puzzled.
“Why do you create…what gives your work purpose?” Francesco thought for a moment, unsure.
“For other’s enjoyment, I guess.” His professor cocked his head to the side.
“So if no one enjoys your work, you’ll stop painting?” He scratched the back of his neck, still puzzled.
“I paint because it gives me a reason to continue…that’s what gives my work purpose.”
A purpose. Francesco thought. “A purpose!” he whispered, glancing at the clutter of newspapers spread at his feet. One headline caught his eyes:
“Man dives from pier to save drowning child.” Featuring a photo of a soaking wet, middle-aged man who looked strangely familiar. Seeing this, Francesco turned his attention to the canvas and started mixing his paints. It seemed like he was painting for days before he finally stepped backwards to gaze at the freshly painted work. It was a woman, why the newspaper inspired him to paint her Francesco had no idea. She was elderly though she hadn’t lost her beauty, and there was something familiar in her eyes.
“You are Maria.” Francesco said, feeling suddenly light as a feather, and something within him seemed to tug at the strings of his heart: he had found a new muse…a new purpose.