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World of Darkness: The Academy - Catching Up [Complete]

Frida Ricci

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(Time: Approximately 11 a.m. the day of Chapters 1a & 1b.)

Frida stepped up to the door to the art class and knocked politely. After a moment she opened the door, and glanced in the room. As expected, Mr. Bracks was busy at a work of art, and hadn't noticed her.

She was holding a round tube, as she always was when she came to visit him at the beginning of the year. Most of Frida's works were too big to carry all at once to the art room, and she usually left the ones she had finished over the summer back at the penthouse in New York. So she always brought him in large, high-resolution images to look at, and get his critique on. She carried them rolled up in an artist's tube, and they were usually about the same size as her actual pieces.

She also looked forward to getting to see what he had been working on over the summer.

She cleared her throat politely, and then spoke in her calm, flat tone of voice.

"Mr. Bracks, I do hope you don't mind.. the door was unlocked, and I assumed you were distracted."

(Edited to correct details about images/carrying method. Yeah, I know.. I'm OCD.)

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The sound's of Beck - "Where Its At" blared on the stereo in the corner, which made it all the more difficult for Brad to hear the young artist enter. He wouldn't have even noticed her if not for the luckily-timed, embarrasing dance move that spun him around so that he could see her.

"Miss Ricci!" He said in pleasant surprise, setting down the paintbrush/impromptu microphone. "I've told you, call me Brad, or at least Mr. B. Mr. Bracks is my father. Glad to see you back, so, how was your summer?"

He crossed the room to turn off the stereo, taking off his painter's smock as he went, which was fresh with various diluted watercolors. The white wife-beater underneath showed off his colorful Ink before he threw on a button-up that covered everything but his arms.

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She offered him a rare smile and closed the door. Now that she had his attention, she felt better stepping into the room. After all, it was rude to invade someone's personal space without their knowledge.

"Sorry, Mr. B. My summer was lovely, we visited Italy again. I haven't been since I was nine, so it was refreshing to observe everything from a more mature perspective. I feel like the trip was beneficial to me, I even did some work en plein air. Of course, I'm not sure that painting images of Italian fountains and views of the Vatican were quite what the Barbizon's had in mind when they encouraged the practice, but there's really just not that much "nature" to paint in Rome. Having tourists asking me to paint their portraits did get a bit wearisome though."

She tilted her head to the side slightly, and studied him as he pulled off the painter's smock. She gazed at it for a moment or two, and he knew from experience she was probably absorbing the color palette he was currently working with by glancing at the robe. She could be a creepy kid sometimes, but damned if she wasn't a good artist. After a couple moments, she turned back to him and continued as if she'd never stopped.

"It was mostly Americans, of course. I finally put up a little sign that said 'Please Do Not Disturb' and most of the requests stopped. I hope you had a pleasant summer break as well?"

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"Right here, as always. I'm looking forward to seeing what you've done as well."

Frida walked over to one of the art tables, and moved aside a stool. She opened up the tube, and pulled out the roll of images. She spread them out in a stack on the table, and stepped aside.

As Brad stepped up and began to flip through them, he could see that the first few, anyway, where Frida's normal style. Very accurate, she loved detail. Most of her artistic focus had been in the Neo-Classical styles before coming to Dalton, and it was still kind of her default mode when she was working with subjects for fun. Some of her best pieces were done that way too, he had to confess that her sense of realism was stunning. That had something to do with her memory, he knew, because you could show Frida a picture once and she could recite the details back to you a month later, without a single mistake. It was uncanny.

The first several images were obviously from her visit to Italy. There were images of statues and buildings and people and fountains. Frida painted and drew on vacation the way most people took pictures. She usually filled at least three notebooks a week with sketches while on her trips, and turned them into better and more detailed drawings later. These were the ones done in her traditional style, and obviously more to learn the detailing in the architecture, or to study the way light reflected off of or absorbed into marble or stone.

As he went through, though, she began to play with the images, adjusting them to different styles and fiddling with more conceptual types of art. This was something he had been encouraging her to do. Frida's talent was astounding, but he knew if he could get her to move beyond her natural talent and push the boundaries of what she considered art, then she might really be able to develop her own method.

The one that particularly caught his eye was one she had done of an Italian vineyard. She had painted almost everything in the surround of the picture in her typical, hyper-realistic style. But she had added an almost abstract quality to the grapevines themselves, placing the emphasis completely on them in a way that drew your attention. It made him feel like the only thing that was important there was the vines.. it was a very distinct feeling that if they weren't there, if they weren't what it was all about, then all the rest of it would fall to pieces. As, of course, it would.. a vineyard without vines would be worthless to the people who owned it. The piece was obviously huge, the small version almost filled the table. He could tell that it was probably painted to fill most of a wall, and give the viewer the impression that you were standing right where the vineyard started.

She waited patiently as he flipped through them, hands held politely behind her back as he studied the pieces.

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"Nice, very nice...As usual, Frida. I especially like your deviation as you delve into less comfortable styles. This vineyard is absolutely amazing! Do a couple more to make it a series and it would sell before they had the lighting done." He said as he admired her work.

He picked through her work, giving occasional constructive criticism, though they both knew he was mostly just looking for something to say about it.

"I'm still waiting for some Pop pieces. Artists like Warhol made us re-examine images than had become invisible through their familiarity, and you have the exacting talent to do some great work in that field. It will in fact, be one of the assignments this first quarter. You may want to start thinking about it now, I find that people have a hard time finding a subject."

"As far as my work is concerned, well, it pales in comparison, but it's over here."

He led her around the corner, and spanning a distance of approximately 15 feet square was the giant mixed media-watercolor, the groups of various undersea life painstakingly crafted out of various modern day vices, giving meaning to the sticky note that read, 'Pleasures of the Deep?'

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  • 2 weeks later...

Frida nodded at Brad as he spoke, and looked thoughtful at the idea of a pop-art piece. He knew that Frida tended towards more classical styles in a way that only someone of old European blood could manage, but she was always open and willing to take his suggestions.

As the rounded the corner though, her face brightened, and she began exploring his painting thoroughly, her fingers moving close to the piece as she traced different concepts across the canvas, her mind making the connections between different items. She sighed wistfully and turned back to him.

"Mr. B, as always I am taken aback by the messages you are able to integrate into your works. Though you say my work is technically superior, I am sometimes afraid that my focus on technical expertise has developed me into a rather shallow artist. Do you think I'll ever be able to infuse my own art with the kind of emotions that you, like so many other artists can? Anger, or caring, or irony, or bitterness?"

She hesitated, turning back to his piece and studying it with a generous eye. When she spoke, her voice was a bit more muted than normal.

"I suppose.. I would have to care about something first, wouldn't I? More than an instinctive love of my family, or a mutual respect for my fellow artists, that is..."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Frida my dear," Brad said, putting a consoling hand on her shoulder, "You are young yet, first you get to live life and go through anger, caring, irony and bitterness. Then, and only then, can you attempt to imbue the canvas with your feeling."

"I realize this means nothing to you, as it was not long ago, I was standing there in your place, but trust me, one day you'll understand. Worrying is like trying to solve an algebra problem by chewing bubble gum...that's Baz Luhrmann I think..."

He put a thoughtful hand to his face as he tried to confirm the quote to himself. Idly turning back to his painting, he wondered for the bazillionth time if it was done.

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  • 1 month later...

Frida studied the picture with him for a long moment, then nodded slightly.

"I suppose that makes sense. After all, the emotions that my classmates dramatize so strongly are surely feeble imitations of the adult emotions whose names they carry. I highly doubt most of them are emotionally mature enough to actually feel those emotions, and I know most of them are too intellectually immature to understand that what they're going through right now are merely preparations for future relationships. I do hope the sense of detachment that I've formed as a means of improving my ability for artistic observation doesn't affect my ability to feel such strong emotions in the future, however. It would be truly ironic to cut myself off from the ability to create art with true feeling, because of my desire to be a good artist, don't you think?"

She glanced up at Brad, and with an expression no different than the bland one she had just held while speaking of matters of the heart, she switched tracks entirely.

"I think perhaps you should also include something that focuses on today's cultural obsession with interactive media, like video games. You've focused primarily on carnal pleasures, like materialism, sexual desire, gluttony, and the like. But I would think that our emphasis on electronic gratification can be equally destructive, don't you?"

The conversation continued in that stream for some time, before the art teacher and the art student finally parted ways, unaware of the oddness that was about to come, or the fathoms of inspiration it might provide for their creative pursuits. Then again, that was going to be the least of their concerns.

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