(a writing exercise: write ~500 words about the one of the people in the painting by Vermeer “The Artist’s Studio”)
“My dear, is it asking too much to have you remain still? I cannot capture you onto my canvas if you keep squirming and looking about. Your father commissioned this painting and he will be quite unhappy if we can’t deliver it before the time of your mother’s birthday. We have just two months, so please help me, here.” The Artist threw down his brush and rose quickly to his feet. He took up his clay pipe and tamped in some fresh tobacco. After he got it lit, he paced back and forth, often scowling at the young girl, who was mostly ignoring him and was looking out the window. “Now what is it? Are you thinking that your young boy friend will be strolling by? I happen to know that he is apprenticed to the butcher Van Haart, and will not be free for some hours yet. Let us try again, “ he said, in exasperated tones. He replaced the pipe back on its stand. The girl turned to him, breaking the pose. She was angrily tapping her foot. She asked, “Why must we spend so many hours at this horrendous task? Don’t you know what I look like by now? And, why must I don this ridiculous dress? It’s much too large for me, and I hate the color. Is this a dress your common daughter tired of wearing? I am not accustomed to this treatment, I tell you!” The Artist jumped to his feet again, this time knocking over his tray of paints and almost sending the painting to the floor. He gritted his teeth and fumed, but managed to hold his tongue. After a bit, in a mild tone, he pleaded, “Please have a rest, eat some cheese, drink a little wine. I’ll return shortly.” He grabbed up the pipe again, lit it and walked, stiff-legged, out of the room.
He made his way down to the kitchen where his wife was struggling with the large stewpot, trying to get it onto the iron holder above the fire. He quickly ran to help her, glad to have something at which he could direct his strength, rather than fantasizing about strangling the spoiled rich girl in the studio. He turned to his wife, said, “If we didn’t need the money I’d almost throw her out in the street. She fancies herself a queen, but is only the daughter of a prosperous burgher. I’ve met the burgher’s wife; she and the daughter are both a pair of shrews, hardly fit to be around. I pity him, I tell you. What a home life he must have, suffering the two of them under his roof.” His wife stood with hands on hips, waiting on him to finish his tirade. When at last he showed signs of cooling off, she said, “Hold your tongue a little longer, just get the painting finished. Our larder is almost empty, and there are many mouths to feed in this house. And, do you think we can heat it for free?” His shoulders sagged, and he replied, “Yes, my dear. I’ll go back up there and try to placate Her Majesty.”
Slowly the Artist ascended the stairs.