You blow me away with this story and with your writing. Honestly, the way you use words is so poetic and artistic, so perfectly placed. Every sentence has been constructed with precision and honesty, so much so that I feel like Henri must be a real person in your life that you modeled the character after (although I doubt that's true and you're simply a brilliant writer with an incredible imagination and understanding of how any given person thinks about the world). It's just a stunning piece of work, this story.
"Perfection is standing in his office and he is acutely, painfully, aware of it." I just love the way you describe things. The words you choose combined with sentences you construct is such a perfect combination to get as much as you can out of each sentence.
"She has a clear vision in her head - they always do - and even though he disagrees with almost all her choices, he will abide by them. She should be standing, not sitting, with a blank background instead of the window behind her, but he will do as she says and can only hope she is pleased with the result. " - In your author's note you mention how you know nothing about art, but I promise you that sentences like this make me question whether or not that is the truth, hehehe. No, I'm sure you're being honest, which is incredible because you have a great idea on how an artist might think about these situations. A lot of people are good writers who can pull out wonderful words and make poignant sentences that stick with you, but what makes a great writer is someone who has all of that ability and can put the words flawlessly behind somebody else who's identity they don't follow in real life. What I mean is that the fact that you know nothing about painting, but can write like it's what you've spent your own life doing, is what makes you so phenomenal.
Ah, I just love how this shifts from excitement to dread with Henri as soon as he tries to start painting! And the way you describe the reasoning behind it is so beautiful and logical and makes so much sense that I immediately feel what Henri is feeling! Poor guy, haha It's a very relatable idea, too - whether it's seeing a movie or hearing a song or reading a book that just is everything you could have ever wanted it to be, and then trying to explain it to someone else - there's always that feeling of 'How could I possibly live up to that?'
The ending was just to die for. "Does true beauty exist? she has forced him to wonder. When she first walked through his door she had seemed the embodiment of beauty, but to know her a little better is to know much more of her imperfection. She is a woman - no, little more than a girl in all honesty, a wittering, immature girl blessed with an impossible beauty that is marred by petty aspects of personality." - Wow. This is the most beautiful way I've ever heard a shallow person be described. haha It's just so incredible how we see Henri start off seeing her as this unparallelled beauty that nothing compares to, but how when she opens her mouth, it's almost surreal how little there is to offer.
Anyway, I could go on forever singing the praises of your talents. I can't wait to continue it. :-)