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alt=A woman stands in front of a painted canvas on an easel next to a table with paints and a palette.

I Painted a Picture Today

When that moment hits, I just have to go with it. I typically reach for a fresh, clean piece of paper or if the project warrants it, a brand new canvas.

Blank page

Centering this intriguing piece of paper in front of me, I contemplate what I will see on this blank page. The subject matter can be as simple as a bouquet of springtime flowers or as complex as an old abandoned log cabin nestled in a forgotten woodland. I never really know until I have poured over countless pictures, stored digitally and in folders, binders, and drawers gathered just for their potential inspiration. Ultimately, it is the inspiration found here, the first picturesque image, that begins this soul-filling time for me.

Finding a subject matter

I find myself, almost every day searching. Looking around intently as I wonder what today’s new project will be. I am constantly seeking photos, paintings, and illustrations, anything that catches my interest, whether it be bright colors, shapely contours, or distinct contrasts of light and dark.

It is as though I have my own personal “zoom” ability in this challenging vision of mine, honing in, almost desperately to really see what is really in front of me. I am always hoping to be able to capture the subject’s true appearance, able to show the rest of the world just exactly what I see in it.

Technology to help create

My office/art room is where the magic happens. Typically, I will transfer the chosen subject of inspiration onto my computer screen. A nice, well-sized 19-inch Mac screen, so bright and so crisp that each and every detail is crystal clear, making my usually challenging fuzzy and wavy view so much easier to work around.

To further enhance this creative process, I have a large desktop lamp, with maximum brightness LED bulb, and oh-so-helpful magnification capability as well. With this lamp and overhead lighting from four ceilings can lights and an additional four bulbs in the overhead fan, I can see well enough to create.

The magic can begin

Now that my setup is complete, and my environment is perfect, this is where the magic happens. With a brightly lit and enhanced surface ready and waiting, I finally get to begin what I love most: creating. First with a simple sketch of the subject, using a pencil that is just dark enough for me to see and a touch light enough to cover when color is introduced.

In my most recent sittings, I had chosen a picture depicting an obviously older woman, wearing over-magnified glasses. She is hunched over a thick hardbound book, under the glow of a green-tinted library lamp, overshadowed by darkness all around her. Somehow this picture spoke to me on many levels, as I attempted to capture her likeness as evening turned to night.

The picture comes to life

As time progressed, slowly the woman came to life on that blank canvas. Her tiny eyes peered through those coke-bottle glasses, one hand raised to keep those glasses perched on her nose. The light of the lamp casting a yellow glow across her book illuminating the words she was so clearly intent on.

Behind her stood endless books awaiting their chance to be chosen to be read. The dark shadows beyond the lamp, so carefully included, cast an eerie hue around her shrouded shoulders. This night's project had come together most satisfactorily.

Is this me?

As I stepped back to do a final check on this project I was almost taken aback by a thought. There was something familiar about the screen I had portrayed. The glasses, the bright light, the dark shadowy edges, peering so closely to see what must be seen.

The older woman, struggling with changes in her vision in the dim light while spending hours with her passions. Could this be my imagination, drawing parallels where none existed? Or, at the end of the day…

Is this me?

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