What are they watching?

There are two figures looking out over a deserted landscape. We see some kind of plain with some kind of forest at the far end towards the horizon. It’s a quick watercolor sketch painted by me. There appears to be water accumulation on the plain – is it a wetland? The right figure appears to be bending forward slightly, perhaps to see better. We don’t know what the figure is looking at in that case. The left figure seems more relaxed.

They could be in the middle of a conversation:

I see something! Look over there!

It’s just a desolate plain. A waterlogged and desolate plain.

No, there’s something over there! Something moving in the reeds!

I can not see anything. Everything is as still as can be. Life struggles slowly in the mud, as bleak as this bleak wasteland.

What are you talking about? I see a wading bird! It could actually be a snipe. I told you there was life here!

Life? When your wading bird leaves this place full of “life” for a better existence in a more pleasant environment, will this swamp be just as desolate and empty again? Death is all that remains. And swamp water…

You are impossible to talk with! Oh my, it’s a snipe. Now I am completely sure of it!

A painting can turn into a conversation which turns into a dialogue in a text in a blog post. That can happen when you go to create. And no one is more surprised than me at the result. There is a notion that those of us who create, whether it be text or paintings, always know what we are doing. That we have a plan and that we know what we want to convey. At least for me, that is only rarely true. The process above is far more common.

I start with something – a word, a sentence, or a brush stroke. Then I continue and can end up with just about anything. Most of the time it turns into something. And if it’s not worth showing off or being read by someone, hopefully, I still had fun in the meantime, and probably learned something along the way.

Tomorrow I can take out the painting with the two figures again and maybe I will hear the same dialogue, or maybe it will be a completely different scene playing out before my eyes. I know nothing about this today. As little as I know anything about the relationship between the two characters, although the dialogue above gives a clue. Two different personalities, but also two different perspectives on existence. The dialogue could be developed into a longer text, but I leave the figures standing by the plain.

It was nevertheless nice to meet you!

Mattias Kvick is an author and illustrator