By Karen Gilleland © 2014
Our “Doc” may be obtuse when it comes to social graces, but he is quick to recognize an amorous rival. In this vignette, Martin reveals his understanding of art, as well as of the artist.
I, myself, feel caught in a “Doc Martin” episode – with scans, blood tests, EKGs, and biopsies – as I prepare to undergo surgery for a small, malignant tumor. Fortunately, I am in the hands of a highly skilled surgeon. I’m keeping up my spirits writing FanFiction and watching episodes of “Doc Martin.” God bless you, Martin Clunes!
(Artwork credit: Eric Gilleland)
“Sorry to disturb you. I’m just admiring your painting,” said Louisa.
“Thank you,” he said, paintbrush poised in mid-air. “I’m Lawrence Stone.”
“Louisa Ellingham,” she answered. “Are you staying in the village, Mr. Stone?”
“Please, call me Stone. I’m here working on a series of seascapes for a one-man show in London.”
“Impressive.” Louisa stepped closer to the painting. She hesitated and said, “I hope you’ll forgive my boldness, but I’m headmistress at Portwenn Primary. I was thinking how lovely it would be if you gave our students some pointers about art while you’re here.”
Stone cocked his head and smiled. “I’m about to take a break. Would you like to join me for coffee, and we can talk about it.”
Sipping coffee on the patio of the Crab & Lobster, Louisa and Stone chatted about the best options. They decided on several after-school art lessons for kids who volunteered.
“The problem is funding,” said Louisa. “Good paint and brushes aren’t in our budget, and most parents can’t afford to buy them.”
“Tell you what,” said Stone. “If you will allow me to sketch you, I’ll buy the supplies and recoup my costs when I sell the picture.”
Louisa put both hands to her mouth. “Well, I—I,”
“Great, it’s a deal.” Stone looked across at her, chin on his hand, and smiled.
Louisa shifted in her seat and stood. “I’d better be going. I have a husband and baby at home, probably wondering where I am. See you Tuesday.”
“I look forward to it,” he said, rising and walking out with her.
At dinner, Louisa told Martin about the arrangements with Stone. “It’s a terrific opportunity for the kids. We even plan to host an art show and invite the village. Stone is convinced he’ll make back his costs on his sketch of me.”
“Martin, can you be a little more enthusiastic? It’s not everyday a real artist agrees to teach at Portwenn Primary.” Louisa stood up and started clearing the table.
He didn’t respond, not sure he cared much for the idea of an artist spending time with his wife.
Fifteen youngsters, as well as Louisa and two other teachers, signed up. At the first class, Stone talked about art and explained that the class would use acrylics. He gave each student a small canvas, a set of brushes and paints to start experimenting with color. “If the weather cooperates, we’ll paint outside next time,” Stone promised.
When the class ended, Stone took out his sketch pad and set up an easel near the window. “Sit here,” he directed Louisa, who wore a V-neck sweater and a gold heart on a chain around her neck. “The trick with portraits is getting the right expression,” Stone told her. “Tell me about your husband. How would you describe him?”
“Difficult.” The word blurted out, and Louisa laughed. “Martin is unique. He’s honest, trustworthy, and he is an excellent doctor. His social skills aren’t nearly so good.”
“What attracted you to him?” Stone asked, his hand sketching rapidly.
“Many people have asked me that question,” Louisa replied, her eyes crinkling into a smile. “It’s hard to put into words. We have strong chemistry between us, but we also get on each other’s nerves.”
“When did you know you were in love with him?”
Stone continued sketching. “Have you thought of leaving him?”
“Being apart didn’t work, and now we have James Henry.”
Stone worked on in silence. “That’s enough for today,” he said finally. “We’ll finish next time.”
Louisa looked at him and frowned. “I’ll feel guilty if you don’t cover your expenses with the sketch,” she said.
“Don’t worry. I have a loyal following. I see two sketches coming out of our sittings. I’ll do very well.”
During the next two weeks, the kids painted bold designs, scenery, movie fantasy figures. On the day of the show, the artists laughed with delight trying to decide on their best painting to display.
Louisa chose her seascape, a predominantly gray-blue painting with a stark tree trunk at the edge of the canvas. The tree’s lone branch pointed toward the sea. Stone was squinting at the painting when Louisa walked up to him. “What?” she asked, smiling.
“Interesting. You have talent. Keep painting. It’s good for you. Is your husband coming tonight?”
“Yes, unless he has an emergency.”
Louisa, Stone and the teachers arrived early to set up the displays. The kids’ paintings took pride of place along the front wall. The teachers’ art was placed at one side, and Stone’s charcoal sketch of Louisa was set by itself at the back of the hall. Louisa hadn’t seen the finished sketch, and she walked over and stood in front of it.
“What do you think?” asked Stone, who came over to stand beside her.
“It’s nice, very nice. But do you think it will fetch the three hundred pounds you spent?”
Stone smiled. “Please, stop worrying. I’m not a starving artist.”
Louisa looked over at Stone, with his blond, wavy hair, blousy white shirt and black jeans, large, turquoise-and-silver pendant at his throat and turquoise rings on his fingers. “No, I can see that you aren’t.” Her eyes met his for a moment, and a surprised expression came over her face. Louisa turned and walked over to the table where the teachers were setting out refreshments. Glancing back, she saw that Stone was still watching her.
At seven o’clock, parents and other villagers arrived; and by seven-thirty, the hall was jammed. People walked around admiring the paintings and congratulating the artists. At seven-thirty, Louisa sounded a bell, and the room fell silent. She introduced the children and talked about what they had learned and how Stone had personally critiqued their work.
Thanking Stone for his time and generosity, Louisa handed him a small, foil-wrapped gift, and the audience applauded vigorously. During the applause, Martin slipped into the back of the room.
Martin spotted the easel to his left. He walked over and stood in front of Louisa’s portrait. He stood there several minutes before he felt someone watching him. He turned, and the man walked over to him. “Doctor Ellingham, is it not? I’m Lawrence Stone.”
Martin looked at the artist, nodded, but turned back to the picture without speaking.
“You’ll want to see Louisa’s painting. Let me show it to you.”
“Yes,” said Martin, and he followed Stone. Martin looked at the painting and shivered slightly.
After a moment, Stone broke the silence. “I can tell you understand art,” he said, but Martin didn’t respond. “You saw the love in Louisa’s eyes that I captured in the sketch, am I right?” and he gestured toward the easel in the back of the hall.
Martin nodded, and his raised eyebrows shot a question at Stone. “She was talking about you as I worked on that portrait.”
Martin let out a breath, and Stone continued. “This seascape, on the other hand, reveals that she feels isolated, pushed aside. The lone branch is a plea for love and security.” Stone touched the edge of the painting. “Your wife is a beautiful woman. She is deeply in love with you, but–”
Louisa walked up to the two men, smiling. “Martin, you’ve met Stone, our artist. What do you think of my painting?”
Martin looked at Stone and turned to Louisa. “Provocative.” He stepped close to Louisa and took her hand. “I’d like to hang it in my office.”
“Of course,” Louisa answered, a puzzled note in her voice.
“I need to get back,” Martin said and moved away.
Parents surrounded Louisa, congratulating her on arranging the class and the gala. Martin turned to see Stone following him. Martin stopped and asked, “What will happen to the sketch?”
“I promised my agent I would send it to him tomorrow. He will place it with The Stockton Art Gallery in London. The owner has first refusal rights on all my art.”
“Louisa mentioned you might do two sketches.”
Stone shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “I decided not to.”
Martin locked eyes with Stone. “I see,” he said; and without further word, Martin strode out of the hall.
Two weeks later, a delivery man brought a crate into the surgery. Martin signed the receipt and took the crate into his office. He pried open the wooden slats, took out the framed sketch and hung it next to Louisa’s seascape. He sat down, gazing at the two pictures across from his desk.
Louisa walked in, saying she planned to take James for a walk. He nodded to the sketch, and Louisa looked at it. “Oh, Martin, Stone needed to sell this picture to pay for the art supplies. How much did you pay for it?”
Martin pointed to the bill on his desk. Louisa gasped, “One thousand pounds!”
“A bargain, so the gallery owner told me. Apparently Mr. Stone’s work is in high demand.” Martin stood up, facing Louisa, and ran the back of his hand against her cheek. “They say one picture is worth a thousand words. This one is worth a thousand pounds.”
Louisa smiled, but when she looked over at the portrait, a tear tickled her eyes. “Stone asked me why I fell in love with you.”
Turning back to Martin, Louisa said, “I found myself struggling with reasons, but the reason is quite simple, really. I fell in love with you because of the way you make me feel.”
Martin took her in his arms, held her close.
– THE END –
“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.
Artwork credit: Eric Gilleland
All “Doc Martin” articles and FanFiction may be found on the home page: karengilleland.wordpress.com