Kathleen Shield's introduction to The Painting is a kaleidoscope of beautiful paint in all of its colors, textures, mediums and values folded into her book's canvas as metaphors, representing life's joys and sadness, as well as options life either affords or denies. From the outset we meet Gerald Oliver DeLaney, the loneliest child you can ever imagine, and one who suffers terrible abuse by his peers. Thankfully, his parents love him and show kindness, but encourage him to deal with his life outside the house by working through the bullying. Instead, he spends his time on the way to and back from school engaged in watching the beauty of, and offering his kindness to, nature, such as helping a worm cross a cavernous deck crack, or trying to save a tadpole the mean boys submerge to its death, and replanting sprouts the same boys crush deep into the soil. Gerald decides all humans but his parents are unkind and completely disengages from them. We wonder, what will happen to Gerald? Can he be saved from that cruel, lonely world of his? That's when his father finally intervenes, but not by accosting the bullies. No, he buys Gerald a huge painting canvas and palette to paint his own world. Gerald is ecstatic. He paints dark shades because he knows that shade all too well, then his dad encourages him to balance it with light. When he does the artist in hm comes alive, and he fills his canvas with every color imaginable and with all natures creatures "great and small' (James Herriot). From this point on, the book is imbued with biblical allusions. Essentially, Gerald creates Eden without Adam and Eve, His work can magically come alive when he lets his dad walk near the painting. His amazed father has him initial his work with his G. in the lower right corner, and Gerald says contently, "This is good," which harkens back to God's words in Genesis. Gerald finally finds a friend in a young girl new to the school named Tiffany. She defeats his skepticism by remaining kind and trustworthy. Unfortunately, she convinces him to let some people see the painting in the greenhouse he's built. That works well until the whole town hears about it, rushes the greenhouse and destroys the painting by causing a huge flood, another biblical reference. God and Gerald win out, though, because Tiffany further inspires him to rebuild and repaint, which he does in cosmic proportions, peoples his creation this time by painting an image and likeness of himself and an image and like of Tiffany, Adam and Eve, perhaps, to as caregivers, in a creation devoid of evil serpents. Gerald decides his creation belongs in the galaxies, in space where it will remain forever unharmed and pure. He finally claims it as his by painting his initials in the lower right corner: G.O.D.
– Peggy Marceaux