Abstract Expressions – Part 1/3

I’ve spent the last 3 weeks in exile. My father’s property in the Hunter Valley, NSW provides me a place to rest, recuperate and analyse. The last 12 months have been big for me and I needed the downtime badly… I was quite nearly at breaking point. The city does that to me sometimes, I can’t see the clear open skies and I feel like the walls are closing in on me, like the wolves are closing in on me, their too sharp, too long teeth dripping with saliva… And so I self imposed an exile.

I recently went through a break up as well as having grandfather passing away shortly after Christmas, it has been a time that has initiated much change and me and the safety and relative solitude of my father’s house and my painting studio in the Hunter seemed the perfect place for this.

Having this time for self reflection made think back on a time in my life following a break-up. It was a strange break up. I was a coward. I had, had an amazing year with this other person and suddenly my feeling changed, I still loved her but I could feel that our time was up. I was a coward though and I couldn’t bring myself to do the breaking up. (Side note: this is something that has always been an issue for me) I tried, we went out one night and just as I was about to have the conversation I started getting panic attacks, I was short of breath and I had a nervous tick that started in my hand. I felt violently ill and then, suddenly she spoke to me. She broke up with me. She could feel my trepidation, she knew I what I was going through.

What followed was a time of self reflection, listening to music, navel gazing. During that time I began writing a piece that I called Abstract Expressions about the relationship and the strong emotions that I felt around that time. I tend to fall hard and fast, it is in my nature. I’m glad I had that time with this person I now call my friend.

I wrote this piece in the style of Richard Brautigan(one of my all time favourite writers).
I have shown this piece to a few people and had feedback. It is yet to be published and likely never will be and so as a gift I will present it to you in three parts over the next 2 weeks. I hope you enjoy, and as always please feel free to leave any comments questions or get in touch if you want to chat about it. I’d love to hear from you.

Watch out for the next instalment on Thursday 19th of April.


Abstract Expressions

1.Quiet and Alone

What do you think about when you’re alone, when it’s quiet and your mind can go to the places you would rather not see? The pages of his book fell to the floor as he fumbled, thoughts of her drifted in to his consciousness and the walls came crashing down.


These things never begin how you think they would. It is never boy meets girl and the rest is history. They start like anything else does, uniquely though, the beginning of a meeting between two souls often starts out in ways that confusing to the parties involved.

What he wouldn’t tell you, he was loved her smile from the very beginning. The radiance that could light the room she walked into. What she wouldn’t tell you was that she was worried. Worried that she could never be good enough from him.

It was not circumstance that brought them together. Later she told him that she had designs on him from the start. She had sought him out; he was not sure how he felt about that. Like an animal that had been hunted, caught in snare.

3.Haze of Lust

 Their first night together was hazy and clear at the same time. Hazy because for some reason, at this point in his life alcohol decided to accompany him along every journey, for her as well luckily enough, and what a journey it was. From suburb to suburb, bar to bar, to food, to dance floor, to boat, to bed. The night was clear in the way that he recalled in detail things that he said to her that night and they became shared symbolism of their union.

Symbols were an important part of both of their beings.

 A tattoo that he spied on her lower back, faded with years between them that he unthinkingly drew attention to, later became a sad joke between them that he was secretly ashamed of. Awkwardness at the first touch of their bodies with out the masks of clothing would blossom into a familiarity they only shared.

A sense of ritual was began on that first night that would continue throughout the course of their time together waxing and waning with the tides of their shared experience.

Quickly days and weeks blended into each other creating a historical account that was less than accurate. That is fine though, history has a way of creating itself in these situations and deciding what the story is that would be told.


He started to find that he would obsess about certain things, one thing in particular. Her ankles. There was just something about them. Maybe they were good and maybe they were bad depending on what mood he was in.

 This obsession with her ankles became a fixation, a focal point for him. He would dream about her ankles at night, they would wrap around his throat, cutting off his breath and turning into blubber flow down into his lungs strangling him from inside. 

At times he would a few feet behind her along the beach and casually watch her walk. Watching, in particularly the way her ankles moved with each step of her body.

He had never obsessed about ankles before and wasn’t sure why they were suddenly becoming such an issue for him, however as humans are wont to do he had obsessed. It was a habit for him, a thing, a body part, and idea would take root and become fixed in his mind. He would look at the light and shade of an object and pull it apart until he was satisfied. At one point he had been fixated on the certain curve of an elbow on a woman who worked with him, a small dimple created on her triceps. He had once been focused completely on the way another’s neck flowed into a shape that created her shoulder, it brought on a sense of delicateness from him that he had been unable to express to anyone.

5.Stark Reality 

When after a few weeks they realized that they had been spending more and more time together and becoming something more than two separate entities it was mentioned and that is possibly where the trouble started. You see, he had this way about obsessing, as soon as a problem was mentioned or vocalized he would, with the same fervor that he applied to elbows, necks and now ankles, obsess and dissect the situation into minute detail. This was a problem, as soon they were worried that there spending time together needed to be addressed he began to address it. Non vocally. It may have been better if no one had ever said a thing about and things would have continued on the path of least resistance.

That was not the case, they decided to back off slightly, their meeting became somewhat of a battle ground, neither person knowing where the other stood and neither relenting to give up their positioning and posturing. A game of chess or of love, they sometimes seem to be much the same thing, and often they are both treated just as that, a game.

6.Instruction Manuals and Household Repairs

Things stall everyday, cars backfire, wheels fall off, computers crash and people fix them. The same thing happens with love except people don’t really know where to start with the repairs. There is no instruction manual for people.

When things faltered with this, it was no ones fault. He didn’t pay her enough attention when perhaps he should have. She might not have understood him as well as she could have. Lust and daydreaming distracted him from her beauty. 

7.Advice from a Minstrel

Life could be better if we were together, is something that I could never say.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Thanks for reading. The next part of Abstract Expressions will be available on Thursday 19th April 2018.

If you’re interested in supporting the making of more soppy art like this or some of my new work: Lost Tales you can join my Patreon over at patreon.com/travisdevries where you can subscribe to give me a little bit of money each month. With that money I use it to create new work and you also get some interesting goodies deliver to you each month. There is T-shirts, limited edition prints, and plenty of secret extras available. Alternatively you can buy one of my original print T’s from this website right in the store, all of the profit from T-shirt sales goes back into me making new art which is great!

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