A Non-Artist Walks Inside An Art Room

By: Maaryah Malik
In an art room, paint brushes will have been used countless of times by eager hands itching to put work on a page.  Once used, the paint brushes will start to tell a story of their own; one of love and wear but also that of neglect and disregard. The paintbrushes in this cup vary from those you would use to forge the minute details of an eye to those you would use to fill a face with color. They smell of moldy wood. They smell bitter like an old hardcover book that has suddenly been reopened after sitting in the basement for 12 years.

One paintbrush in particular sticks out to me. It’s bristles are long and straight; it looks like an extended version of the lollipop paintbrushes that came in those paintbrush candies that Nadia and I would always get at Walmart. I can run my fingers through it’s colorful bristles, unlike many of the others. When I do so, I see some silver glitter remnants from a bad wash in the center of the brush. The bristles look gray at first, a dull gray like the one that people think it’s cool to color their hair with. But once you look closely, you can see the remnants of a lime green that seems to be watered down at the base, and the faded blue-green that runs in a horizontal stripe through the middle. The tips display the slightest bit of purple-pink, or pink-purple, another reminder of the countless uses of this creator of art. The bristles themselves feel like doll hair after it’s been wet-and-dried too many times in “bathtub adventures.” As I run my hands down the body, I feel the slight transition from metal to wood, the main identifier being the concave band where the metal ends. It all feels similar because of the paint splattered in no direct way on the body of the brush. The paint that built atop more paint so that the only part of the company logo remains is a fading “W” that will probably be covered up within the next few uses.

This paintbrush’s neighbor too, has a coat, although it is more like a cardigan worn in the summer over a thin dress just incase the wind blows, because it hasn’t been around long enough in this new place to experience the weathering of the seasons. It sports a red body, the kind of red I associate with my mom’s lipstick when she’s trying to be bold. I can clearly read “6 Dynasty (r) FINE SHADER” written downwards down the side of this brush. The only obstruction is a few spots of blue paint, not quite the color of the night sky on a clear day, but a shade lighter than the blue I associate with the ocean. The metal binding is gold, with watered-down reddish watercolor stains that could be washed off, but were neglected instead. The bottom of the bristles hint ever-so-subtly at the use of the blue that is spotted along the body of the brush. The bristles are a yellow-brown, the color that no one associates with beauty. Ever. They are smooth yet moist in a way that brushes should probably not be. Like badly cooked angel hair pasta that’s been put in the fridge and then rewarmed, with a squishy but dry texture that is not quite right, but obviously on a smaller scale.

The next paintbrush that catches my eye has not only been worn by innumerable uses, but destroyed. The bristles are frozen together, like all hope for them has been lost. The bristles display whispy white hairs like that of my grandmother’s but that have been tainted with failed uses of purple and green and red that are distributed throughout. The top of the bristles give the false illusion of capacity, as I brush my fingers through them and feel what could not even be a centimeter of loose hairs. They feel rough like the whiskers of a mouse scratching against rough skin. The once-silver plated metal of the brush seems like it is now bound to the bristles by the purple mixed with white paint and the once golden sparkly paint, instead of how it should be. There is paint splattered all over the body of the wood that was once a shiny light tan color. All that can be felt and seen on this now useless brush is the layers upon layers of paint signifying overuse and disregard. This brush could now be seen as a masterpiece of it’s own, but now it has been rendered useless in serving its original purpose.

Isn’t it funny though, how these brushes could have been safeguarded, with just a little bit of water?