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Who is this sassy lost child
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"I'm fine," Jae said, too quickly and sharply. He'd completely forgotten that he wasn't the only one in the room, caught up in painting and the music he was listening to. Brendan was... well, he existed. That was more or less the extent of Jae's opinion on him. Overly nice, sort of wimpy, had been on the receiving end of Jae snapping at him more than once over the years. Not much more to him than that. "I don't need- oh, you're doing that now."

Really, he'd rather that they both pretend his spectacular fall had never happened, but Brendan seemed intent on playing the Good Samaritan. At least Jae was pretty sure that Brendan didn't have it in him to be patronizing when he offered help.

He stood to toss his dirtied paper towels into the trash and grabbed another handful before glancing over his canvas to make sure it hadn't been too badly disturbed. There was a small streak of red where there shouldn't be now; it was near a corner and could be covered up easily enough once it dried, but it did nothing for his mood. Jae was a perfectionist when it came to his art, especially with painting where mistakes were more permanent than in a sketch. He sure as hell wasn't putting anything with glaring errors up for the senior exhibition.

Jae intended to pull out all the stops for his part of the exhibition. He had one finished painting already, out of what he meant to be a short series. The themes he was going for were transformation, and birds (They'd just gone over "The Crucible" in English class and frankly, the scene with the girl screaming about someone turning their soul into a bird was the only part he remembered clearly). The first portrait had been of a woman and an owl, and this second one was supposed to be a peacock but now he'd gone and gotten red paint where it wasn't supposed to be and it looked like the bird's head was on fire and-

Wait. Wait a minute.


"Phoenixes!" Jae blurted out. He shoved his handful of paper towels at Brendan without another word and practically vaulted over him to get to the supply closet in search of more red paint. These bursts of real inspiration were few and far between, and he needed to get back to work before the image in his mind's eye slipped away again.

He could still go with the peacock sketch he'd done but a different color scheme, play with lighter and darker accents to really emphasize the idea of fire... Jae was dimly aware that he was probably grinning like a loon as he located the paints he was looking for.

Oh yes, he could turn this around. Nature: 2, Jae: 1. Suck it, nature.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."

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Black Kingdom, Red Kingdom · East Wing