The purple Zafara’s hand flew across the sketchpad, scribbling a portrait of the scenery in front of her. She was seated upon a large boulder on a beach on Mystery Island, quickly trying to finish her drawing of the ocean before the sun began to set.
The Zafara captured every detail of the beach. She had travelled far down the shore, to where there weren’t any neopets or owners. This section of the beach was rocky and dangerous, so most pets didn’t travel down there, except for the aspiring artist that had climbed her way to the top of the highest sea cliff simply to draw the ocean.
As she finished her sketch, the Zafara’s arm slowed to add the final details to her portrayal. When she finally finished, she held it up to admire, but then frowned. It was a lovely drawing, but why did it have to be so dull? The picture had been drawn completely in plain pencil, without any color at all. But how could she have used colors? As much as the young Zafara loved art, she was colorblind, and everything she saw was in black and white, limiting her ability to use any color in her artwork.
Sighing, the Zafara got up and made her way down the rocky slope and started the walk back home. As she entered her neohome she was greeted by her owner, Tala, who was busy cooking dinner.
“Hello, Kyla! Did you have a nice day at the beach?” Tala asked as she entered the kitchen.
“Yeah, it was great.” Kyla answered nonchalantly.
Out of habit, she began setting the table for her small family of three: herself, Tala, and her older brother, Deloyar. The desert Lupe wandered into the kitchen just as she was finishing with the table. They began eating when Tala sat down.
Tala and Del started having a conversation about neoschool, while Kyla picked at her dinner in silence. She became lost in thought about the day’s earlier events. Her art teacher had commented for the first time all year about Kyla’s consistent grey drawings.
“You’re a great artist, Kyla. You have some real talent. But why is your work always so depressing? I don’t think I’ve seen you draw one colorful picture all year! Why?” Mrs. Bonnet had asked her. Kyla had simply shrugged and replied: “I like drawing in black and white.”
The truth was, however, that she had been too embarrassed to admit to her art teacher that she was colorblind, and had pretended that colorless art was what she liked. Because what kind of true artist had ever been colorblind? Del had even told her several times, she would never be a true artist, because art wasn’t grey.
“Hey, Kyla, is everything okay? You seem quiet tonight,” Tala commented, interrupting her thoughts.
“Yeah, I’m fine, just tired. I think I’m going to go to bed early,” she said, standing up and pushing her chair in.
“Are you sure? You hardly touched your dinner,” Tala commented.
“Yeah, and it’s a Friday night! You’re going to bed now?” Del added.
Kyla nodded. “I had a long day,” she said, and turned and went up to her bedroom.
Closing her door behind her, Kyla stood in front of her full length mirror and stared at her reflection for a moment. Kyla knew she was a purple Zafara, but her fur didn’t look too different from many other pets’ colors. She remembered when she had been just a red Zafara in the pound. Tala had painted her soon after adopting her, and Kyla remembered seeing no difference in her fur after emerging from the Rainbow Pool, but had thanked Tala anyways. At least others could see it, she supposed.
Kyla turned and went into her closet and pulled out a box of old art supplies she’d never used. The box consisted of colored pencils and crayons. Tala had bought her these when she adopted Kyla. She had told Tala how she had always loved to draw, but didn’t mention her blindness until after Tala had bought her gifts.
Kyla opened the box and lifted a set of colored pencils out of the case and rummaged through them. There were many pencils of all different colors. Kyla had to look at the labels on the sides of the pencils to know what colors they were; which only dampened her mood even more. All of the pencils looked the same to her, but the labels suggested otherwise. No two pencils were the same, and she knew if only she could see colors, she would know why.
“I’m going to create a colorful picture, no matter what,” she muttered to herself, pulling an old sketchbook out from her closet. She dug through the pencils to find a good color to start with. “Green,” She mused, studying a green colored pencil. Trees are green, right? she thought. She had heard pets mention trees and many other plants as green things, so she started with a sketch of a tree.
When she finished with the tree, she continued to draw many other plants she was sure were green. She filled out two entire pages of green drawings before moving on to a different color. “Orange... what kinds of things are orange?” she said aloud to herself, tapping the pencil on the blank sheet of paper.
Unable to think of anything good enough, she put the pencil to the side and continued looking for a good color. She studied the colors of each of the pencils, and was beginning to feel overwhelmed by all of the colors. There were colors she’d never even heard of before!
“This is ridiculous; I should’ve known I wouldn’t be able to do this...” she muttered to herself. “What is cerulean, or periwinkle? And I thought apricot was a fruit...” Kyla threw down the pencils and sighed with frustration.
Just as she was about to give up, she heard Deloyar’s voice in her mind again, reminding Kyla of why she’d decided to do this in the first place.
“You’ll never become a real artist without the ability to draw in color. Art is colorful, not black and white.”
Kyla winced at the memory, and clutched a purple pencil. She would draw a portrait of her family, and it would be so great that Del would never put her down about becoming an artist ever again. And when she won first place in the art gallery, she would become known as the first successful colorblind artist.
Taking her time, she started with a slow, detailed portrait of herself. She sketched her outline in purple, shaded it, and even added her shadow as well. After about an hour or so, she moved on to drawing Del. She came to a halt then. What color were desert pets, anyway? She had no desert pencil. Trying to come up with a solution, Kyla wandered to her closet again and pulled out all the books she owned but had never read.
To her luck, she came across an old stack of Neopian Encyclopedias. With all five books, she was sure to find what color fur desert pets had. Opening a Neopian Encyclopedia K - O, she read everything she could find about the Lost Desert. She learned the national colors were blue and gold. The sand was brown, and most of the buildings were, too. Most Sakhmetians wore brown, blue or gold clothing, so it only made sense that desert pets were brown and gold colored too, right? These were the thoughts whirring through Kyla’s head as she read.
Putting the books down, Kyla returned to her drawings and started sketching her brother in brown. Kyla stayed up past midnight figuring out what colors his clothes were, and where to start with the drawing of her owner.
Finally, after nearly seven hours of nonstop drawing, Kyla finished her portrait, deciding to surprise her family with it in the morning. She smiled to herself as she put her art supplies away; this was probably the greatest drawing Kyla had ever done. Not just because of the color, but the lines and shading were so perfect; Del, Tala and herself looked so lifelike in the drawing, and the background was perfect too. Tala and Deloyar would be so impressed with her, she knew it.
The next morning, Kyla slept in to well past ten o’clock. When she woke up, however, she was ecstatic. She knew her drawing just had to be perfect. She didn’t say anything to Tala or Del as she ate a late breakfast, and waited until they all sat down for lunch to present them with her picture.
“Kyla, Del, I hope you two are hungry for lunch!” Tala called her pets from their rooms around noon. Before rushing downstairs, Kyla grabbed her drawing, and carefully tore it from the sketchbook. She raced down the stairs, not caring about acting casual anymore.
“What’s the rush? Did you see the Pant Devil upstairs or something?” Del asked with a chuckle as Kyla scurried into the kitchen. Ignoring his remark, Kyla lifted the drawing up to her chest, and held it close with the blank side facing her family.
“I have to show you two something before we eat,” Kyla said. “This is probably the best drawing I have ever made. It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen, and it has one detail that will make it stand out from all the others,” she explained.
“What is it?” Tala questioned with a grin.
Kyla grinned back. “Color.”
Tala and Del exchanged glances, and then looked back eagerly at Kyla.
Kyla turned the paper around so the drawing was facing them. Both of their smiles faltered a little, but didn’t vanish. Neither of them said anything, but Kyla could already tell there was something wrong.
“Well?” she asked, after neither of them commented on her work.
“Oh, uh, well it’s... colorful, for sure,” Tala said, trying to still sound upbeat. Del tried to conceal a smirk at his owner’s comment, but failed and had to drop his head to avoid hurting Kyla’s feelings.
“What? What’s wrong with it?” Kyla asked, her smile vanishing. She turned the picture around to look at it. It looked great to her, but apparently there was something about colors she just couldn’t figure out.
“My fur’s not brown, it’s orange,” Del said, looking up again. “And my headpiece is blue and black, not gold,” he explained.
“Oh,” Kyla responded dejectedly.
Tala stood up and walked over to her neopet. She took the drawing from her hands and studied it herself.
“This is very good, Kyla. Especially considering you can only see neutral colors. It makes sense that you wouldn’t know what color my hair and eyes are, since I may never have mentioned it to you. I’m a blonde, which means I have yellow hair. You did come very close, though. I can tell you did a lot of research,” Tala said.
Kyla didn’t smile, though. She had worked so hard on this picture, but it had ended up completely wrong anyways.
“Purple Zafaras aren’t a solid purple. You have blue irises, black pupils and a pink nose,” Tala added.
Kyla looked up at her brother, trying to figure where else she’d gone wrong when drawing him, but couldn’t think of how she would have learned the real colors of his clothes and fur, unless she’d been directly told by someone else.
“I just wanted to become a real artist. There’s no artist out there that only draws in black and white,” Kyla said quietly, tears brimming in her eyes.
“Oh, Kyla, you are a real artist! Your drawings are spectacular, with or without color. Who says artists have to use colors? I’ve seen plenty of famous drawings that were colorless. Besides, it isn’t really art if it doesn’t come from your heart, right? This clearly didn’t come from your heart, because you had to research to find the colors needed to complete your portrait. Art isn’t something you can find answers to in books, art is your way of expressing how you see the world around you, and how it affects your life. You see everything in black, white, and grey. So therefore, it only makes sense that your artwork is the same.”
Contemplating this, Kyla’s tears dried and she looked up at her owner. Tala was right, after all. Glancing over at her brother, Kyla saw that even Del had a lot to think about after hearing Tala’s insight.
“You’re right,” Kyla said. She looked down at her portrait, deciding what to do with it.
“This obviously won’t be accepted into the art gallery, though...” she mumbled.
“I have a better place for it,” Del said, standing up.
He took the drawing from Kyla and opened one of the kitchen cabinets. He dug around for awhile, until his paw set on something. He pulled an old picture frame from the bottom of the cabinet and placed Kyla’s portrait inside. It fit perfectly.
He looked around, and finally set it up on the wall, next to the dinner table. Kyla smiled again.
“Thank you,” she said, admiring her artwork.
Kyla figured her drawing probably looked pretty ridiculous hanging in the kitchen like that, but to her family, it was the greatest work of art they had ever seen.