OHIEL GAVE ALL OF his sisters each a hug, his baby brother a kiss on the forehead and his younger brother a firm handshake. Then he turned to his father and offered his hand which his father took gruffly. As he shook his father’s hand he couldn’t get over the feeling of the familiar rough callouses and the jagged edges of his father’s face, familiar sights he might never see again.
“I’ll miss you,” he told his father as casually as possible.
He saw his father’s brow crinkle as he contemplated his son’s comment. “I hope…you’ll be all right.”
Ohiel nodded and let go of his father’s hand as he turned towards the carriage that would take him and Diar to Olaea. Diar was waiting patiently by the carriage doors and smiled when Ohiel looked over to him.
After another round of hugs for his sisters, he finally moved to Diar’s side. Diar helped Ohiel up and into the carriage before turning to Ohiel’s father and saying,
“Thank you for entrusting your son to me. I’ll make sure to take care of him.”
“Please do,” Ohiel’s father replied. “If he gets to be too much trouble feel free to send him back to me.”
Diar laughed, “I’m sure that it is not going to be a problem.”
Ohiel’s father did not laugh.
A few minutes later they were on their way, the carriage banging along the ruts of the destroyed road.
Every few moments they would bounce in the carriage as they hit another one of the tree roots that stuck up due to the fact that the storm had washed away all of the dirt that had originally covered it.
There were a few minutes of silence as they adjusted to each other’s presence before Diar asked, “Are you comfortable?”
Ohiel blushed, “I’m a bit uncomfortable…I’ve never ridden in a carriage before.”
Diar was shocked, “Never?”
Ohiel shook his head, “I never had a need to.”
Diar leaned back, “Well, it’s never comfortable but it’s faster than walking.”
“Is this your personal carriage?”
The older man laughed. “No, no. It belongs to my friend, he’s only lending it to me. We’ll be meeting in Olaea so I can return it to him.”
Ohiel and Diar became quiet as the carriage rumbled onwards towards its destination. Ohiel made a quick study of the inside quickly analyzing that although it was a good looking carriage it was not the best money could buy. The carriage’s lining was fake silk and velvet of a dull (probably faded) red color. The ribbing was painted a gold color to make it look like real gold. Gilded, he thought the word was. Another sign that although this man had wealth, he did not flaunt it.
He glanced out at the window and saw the fields of green, pastures where cows grazed. He had never seen so many in one place before! He had grown up with the sea, fish and chicken and perhaps the occasional goat or horse, but never really cows. Cows of brown and white, black and white and sometimes solid black or brown! There was even a red one!
With a quick movement he had drawn his sketchpad from his small bag and started sketching the cows as they passed. He noted their anatomy and the way they moved when they walked, how they stood…his hand stopped moving for a moment as he contemplated his sketch. He brushed his fingers over the contours of the sketch. Diar leaned over to take a look at his sketch.
“You’d do better if you added more details while you had the chance. You might not get another chance to see a subject again so you want to add as many details as you possible can.”
Ohiel licked his lips, “How do you know if a detail is important?”
Diar wrinkled his nose. “You just…” he gestured with his hand, “You really look. You look hard, deeply, at the subject. When I paint men for example,” he waved his hand again, “I try and look at their individual muscles, the expression on their faces, the way they hold their hands, the way they stand,” he stopped and waited for Ohiel to stop writing. “Have you ever heard of contrapposto?”
Ohiel shook his head. “No, I don’t think I have…”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t. I see you mostly do portraits and landscapes, rarely ever full forms, am I correct?”
Ohiel nodded enthusiastically.
“Well, that’s a problem. As an artist you should be able to paint a variety of ways, not just one or two ways. I’ll have to teach you how to do full body paintings.”
Ohiel nodded again.
“So, contrapposto is a way of standing, counter pose actually. When you stand casually you put more weight on one foot, one side. That is conrapposto.”
Ohiel’s pen scribbled frantically across his pad of paper.
Diar calmly told him, “When you actually start painting or drawing using contrapposto you’ll start to understand it.”
Diar gazed intently at Ohiel, before he took the sketch pad from Ohiel and his charcoal pencil. “Hold still,” he commanded.
Very quickly his eyes traced the boy’s features as the charcoal pencil scratched across the page. A few minutes later he turned the sketch pad around to show Ohiel the result.
“See? In this I sketched you at one moment – the moment of your surprise as I took the sketch pad – I managed to create a whole new idea, not just blank or emotionless face of stone as was preferred in the past.”
Diar took another breath, “You are a great artist, never doubt that. But remember, you are not the best, you may never be the best, I for one, am only known so widely because of a single commission. You may never get something like that, but I would not worry. I’m sorry this is very confusing for you right now, and I wish there was something more I could do, but…”
This time it was Ohiel who smiled. “I am not going to worry.”
That was their first conversation of many about art during the two day journey to the ship.
The ship was large and made of a gorgeous red colored wood. The masts seemed to pierce the sky and when the sun shone down it reflected off the white masts unstained by dirt and grime of the sea. This was her maiden voyage – the first time she was to sail. Ohiel thought of their journey on the carriage and wondered at this new marvel.
There was a round barrel sitting at the corner of the beginning of the pier and he found it was a good vantage point to observe the ship. Once he was comfortably seated he pulled his sketch pad and his charcoal pencil. He flipped through his sketch pad until he got to a clean page. He stared for a moment as he took in the ship before touching his pencil to the paper and starting to sketch. Every few minutes he would look up and double check that he was drawing accurately. The ship began to take shape in his art, the minute details, the small cracks in paint, the beautiful name of the ship, “The Sea Maiden” in its gorgeous cursive, and the handsome sailors who moved around each other going about their jobs easily.
Diar spoke over his shoulder, “You seem to be getting the hang of what I taught you.”
Ohiel jumped, not realizing that the man had come up behind him.
“Sorry,” Diar apologized, “I thought you had heard me come up. I called your name several times.”
“No, no, it’s fine. I was just finishing up anyways…” Ohiel let the sentence trail off, “Did you need me?”
“Oh? Yes, we’re getting ready to board.”
Diar gave him his ticket. “We’re in first class, we’ll have a large sitting room, two bedrooms and an onboard bathroom as well as a breakfast room. I think you’ll enjoy this trip very much.”
Ohiel stood up from the barrel which was promptly whisked away by a sailor in white.
“They make good subjects, don’t they?” Diar inquired of his young pupil.
Ohiel nodded as he was too busy staring as they walked up the gangplank of the ship. After waiting for about a half hour in the boarding line the Captain greeted them introducing himself as, “I’m Captain Leer. This is not my first ship, nor will it be my last. I am here to take you to Helvonum. Please enjoy your time aboard this ship but also remember you must follow the rules and regulations. Come aboard.”
“Aaaah!” Leer grinned as he patted Diar on the back. “Here you are! Did my carriage arrive here in good shape?”
“It’s back here in perfect shape Leer, don’t worry.”
The Captain turned and looked down at Ohiel. “Who might you be? You can’t be related to Diar, now can you?”
Ohiel shook his head. “I’m Ohiel. I’m a painter. I’m going to be Diar’s apprentice.”
“Apprentice, eh? You manage to get along with him? I’ve never seen anyone get along with this rascal!”
Ohiel ducked his head and looked away with embarrassment.
“Aww, don’t be like that boy, I meant nothing by it. Diar here is my best friend’s son. His Daddy’s dead now of course, but I still look after him.”
Diar gripped the older man’s hand, “Enough about that now, we’ve got things to be doing.”
Leer laughed his big belly laugh and waved them onboard the ship. “Enjoy!” he called.
Once they were away from the old man Diar commented, “He’s like a second father to me, although I think he’s losing his mind. In any case, here is our cabin!”
And with that he threw open a door and their sea voyage began.