After culling through my completed manuscript and making notes…okay, about 100 color-coded notecards, I have come to the conclusion that I need another layer woven into the tapestry of my story. Meet Nolan Baxter. He’s there for a reason: to impart information to the reader that main characters Annie and Steve may not know or have access to. He’s there to make readers say, “WTF?” and he’s going to help tie things together in the end.
Take a peek. Let me know your thoughts. Remember, this is an original work of fiction. Please do not make your own.
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“Nolan Baxter wrote the obligatory ghost story on Halloween, the stories of lasting love on Valentine’s Day and interviews folks around the Bean about homelessness. Worse, Nolan Baxter was a chameleon, his colors changing based on who he was around—and how he could please them, never fully understanding who he was and what made him tick.
Human interest stories became his passion. What interested others surely would interest him. But, it didn’t.
Still yet, he had a job to do. When the senior editor got wind of a special exhibit at the art institute, Nolan armed himself with a notebook and trucked down Michigan Avenue.
The flags flapped in the wind as Nolan traipsed up the steps of the massive stone building, his Converse sneakers ill-matched with his wide-whale cords and Gingham shirt. He nodded to the overly large bronze lions standing guard—now weathered and turning green—commissioned from sculptor Edward Kemeys. He found it interesting that the lions had unofficial names—the southern-most sculpture called “stands in an attention of defiance,” whereas the northern- most lion is referred to as “on the prowl.” He knew all thanks to a past story he penned for the Trib on the 120th anniversary of the building.
When Nolan reached the front windows of the Art Institute, he flashed his press pass and followed an elderly docent inside. He marched forward and headed down the main staircase to the lower level where the traveling exhibits were on display.
To his luck, one of the resident art professors shuffled about the lower level rounding up folks for a tour.
“Art is like magic,” he began. “Not many would identify art as magical,but I am not just anyone.” Nolan rolled his eyes at the professor’s pretentious comment. He thought he had escaped the brainy type after graduating from journalism school. No such luck. “You see, artists have been employing the visual illusion since the fifteenth century, when Renaissance painters invented techniques to trick your brain into thinking that a flat canvas is three-dimensional, or that a series of brushstrokes in a still life is a bowl of luscious fruit. It’s not—we all know it’s oil on canvas.”
The crowd stirred, shifting their backpacks and hips, a mass of smelly bodies bathed in bad clothes and body odor. Nolan nestled his pad of paper in his palm and feigned interest.
The Art professor began again, “Renaissance painters realized they could manipulate atmospheric effects by making tones weaken and colors pale as they recede from view. They used shading, occlusion, and vanishing points to make their paintings…hyperrealistic.”
Nolan stifled a yawn and cracked his knuckles.
“Now, let’s fast-forward to 17th century Netherlands. The Dutch developed a style of painting the French referred to as Trompe l’oeil. That means, “trick the eye.” These life-like paintings seem to jump from the frame.” The professor jumped a foot or so off the ground to illustrate his point.
Nolan Baxter clenched his jaw. The professor side-stepped to a piece of art hanging on the creamy white walls. “For example, if you’ll look at The Attributes of the Painter by Gysbrechts, you’ll see just that.”
Several overweight women huddled to the painting on the wall. Sure enough, what appeared on the completed art was a three-dimensional depiction of the supplies of a painter. A wooden frame with a darkened piece of canvas rolling off at the corner, paint brushes, and a pallet seemed to dangle from a painted-on nail.”