The Painter

I have a story to share with you.

Last night I was out for dinner, great restaurant, I was sitting in the window booth eating, and outside the window, a man came up and gestured to me. He had a painting in his hand. And he was waving for me to come outside.

Now, as odd as it was to me, I knew this man. I’d met him before. In fact, I’d bought a painting from him before. It was about 30km away, during the day, months ago, where I was waiting on my Oporto order with my son.

Back then, I remember feeling that lizard brain fight or flight reaction of fear and protection, my first instinct to ignore this crazy person calling to me from outside a service station. But I got over that, and went outside. He was an artist, homeless. He’d painted these quite good indigenous “dot” style paintings, and was selling them for money. I brought my son out, introduced them, and he chose a painting.

So I recognised this man, months and kilometres later, last night. And I left my conversation and went outside. A young woman on a date who had obviously witnessed this silent exchange said as I was passing “you’re not actually going to go outside are you?”. “It’s okay, I know him,” I said.

I wished I’d said “why? Why would I not go outside for one minute to have a connection with a fellow human. Imagine what his life is like, homeless, in winter? He’s using his talent to make art to offer the world, and I should ignore him, shame him?”

Anyway, so I went outside, and shook his hand, and told him I remember him, and I’d bought a painting with my son. He didn’t remember me, and introduced himself, and showed me his painting, and I asked him to describe it to me, and he did, and I bought the painting, which depicts regrowth after a bushfire, and I went back inside with the painting, excited to hang it and tell my son about it.

Half an hour later, there was a knock on the window again, and the same man was back, waving me outside. I excused myself and went outside.

He’d spent the money, and wanted help. Just $30 to get a taxi back home. I told him no. I told him I thought he was talented, and I loved his paintings, but if he’d blown the money in half an hour, he’d have to work things out. I told him my father was an alcoholic, and I’d lived with this kind of thing all my life. I shook his hand again and went back inside, and finished my meal, and my wine, and my conversation in the nice, warm restaurant.

So now I have a second painting from this man. This addict. This merchant. This painter. This human.

And I can’t stop thinking about him.

4 thoughts on “The Painter”

  1. I love reading these posts Andre. Congratulations and thank you for stimulating and championing human behaviour rather than all that false corporate crap. Love the new name too, makes me feel good reading it.

  2. Imagine if everyone could see the human being instead of the circumstance, what a different world we could create. Great post Andre.

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