116. Pablo

Oil on canvas. 

This is a painting I made for my creative writing class's multimedia assignment. I whipped up this piece as an accompaniment to a short story I wrote of the same name. It took me one long, sleepless night to complete, and I went to class two days later only to find out it wasn't due until the following week. Fantastic.

It all started with a concept:

Adobe Photoshop CS5

Here is a process .gif I took the liberty of making. I didn't know where else to put such a tall canvas so I painted against my closet door, as you can see. Pardon the mess!

make a gif

And the usual snapshot of my palette:

This is probably the last time you'll see me paint octopi... for now, anyway. As much as I adore them, I think it's time for a change.

And for those of you who are interested, here is the short story I wrote. It took arguably longer to make than the painting, to be honest. All that time spent brainstorming - gah!


My pet octopus died today.

Little Pablo was a baby when I saved him from the big fishes that cold day in December. I was walking along the seashore right outside our small house in Tossa de Mar when I spotted him, swimming feebly and helplessly amongst his brothers and sisters. “Antoinette, honey, it’s time for dinner!” I heard my mom’s shrill voice from the kitchen. “I’m coming!” I grabbed Little Pablo before the big fishes could gobble him up, I only wish I could have saved his siblings too.

I held him in my arms and ran as fast as I could, and as soon as I got home I saw my mom in our living room with her arms folded and that look in her face she always had when I did something bad. She looked at me, then to the small, squirming octopus in my arms and back at me again. “What is this?” she asked. “I saved him from the big scary fishes mommy! Can we keep him?” I asked.

“Absolutely not.”

“Pretty please?”

“Honey, you know how I feel about keeping pets in the house.”

“But it’s my birthday tomorrow!”

“Antoinette, you’re eight, not five.”

“But mom!”

“Fine. But only if you promise to take good care of him.”

And take good care of him I did. I took Little Pablo and placed him in a nice little fish bowl – complete with sand, seawater and bits of seaweed so he’d feel right at home. I put the bowl right next to my bedroom window. I liked how in the mornings, the sunlight would stream through my curtains and make the surface of the water in his bowl shimmer. At night Little Pablo would emit a soft pink glow and I remember thinking it was the prettiest thing I had ever seen. I used to sit by the window for hours just watching him, swimming around in that bowl of his.

As the months passed, Little Pablo grew. He grew so big that I had to move him to a secondhand fish tank my mom got from the market. He grew so big that I could no longer call him little. Still, my Little Pablo continued to grow.

Today mom decided it would be a good day for a walk on the beach.

“Wait, let me just get Pablo!” I said.

“Sure honey, I’ll be waiting by the door.”

I took a pail of seawater and rushed to my bedroom. I opened the door.

“Little Pablo, guess what? We’re going for a walk today!”

I didn’t hear the water splash like it normally did whenever I spoke to him.


I walked towards the tank only to find Little Pablo’s limp body next to a clump of seaweed. I tapped the glass.

“Pablo? Pablo!”

By now I was tapping the glass furiously.

“Pablo! Pablo, no!”

I shook the tank.

Eventually I took his body – now a good fifteen inches – in my arms and wept. My mom barged in the door.

“Honey, what’s taking you so- Oh no.”

“It’s Pablo, mommy. He… He’s dead!”

My mom took my head in her arms as I held Pablo in mine. Together, we cried for the little octopus I brought home that cold winter day two years ago.

It was my mom who broke the silence.

“We should bury him.”

“No – I know where to put him.”

That night, I brought Little Pablo to the sea. I could feel the cool summer night breeze against my skin, and hear the waves crashing against distant rocks. My mom stood behind me and watched as I placed Little Pablo’s body on the sand.

“You were the best pet octopus ever. I love you.”

I let the tide slowly lift him up and bring him back to the sea.


A year has passed and until now, I still think of Little Pablo every time I look at the sea.

It was unusually warm that evening, so I decided to go for a swim. It was high tide season, and the sea was calm. The waves caressed my legs, my arms, my face. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to float freely; I felt all my thoughts and worries drain out of me. I was lost in a state of unmatched serenity.

The tides shifted without warning. I didn’t see the huge wave approaching; it overcame me and I was sent under. I paddled furiously to the surface and took a deep breath only to be overwhelmed by wave after wave after wave. I couldn’t keep up. I held my breath for as long as I could, hoping that the sea would calm down eventually.

I held my breath until I no longer heard the thrashing of waves. I opened my eyes and saw a familiar soft pink glow in the depths of the sea.

“Pablo?” My voice echoed.

“It’s me, Antoinette!”

The glow grew stronger – larger – as I swam towards my Little Pablo. I finally saw him, and oh, he was magnificent. He was probably the size of my house now, but there wasn’t a shred of fear to be found in my heart. I continued to swim towards him, and he seemed just as happy to see me. My Little Pablo flailed his tentacles just like he used to. I laughed as they tickled me, and I dared myself to swim closer still.

Little Pablo enveloped me, engulfing all of me in one giant embrace.

I closed my eyes in absolute bliss.

Submitted on: 21 Apr 2011


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