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  • Writer's pictureMarta Stephens

The Painting I Almost Trashed

Author, Aaron Paul Lazar and I have been close friends for nearly 20 years. We’ve never met, but we are certainly the modern version of pen pals. Aside from editing and offering advise on each other’s writing, we’ve cheered one another’s successes over the years and supported each other during our lowest and most troubling times.

Through our weekly and sometimes daily texts and e-mails, we’ve shared photographs of our families, and watch each other’s children and grandchildren grow into young adults. I'm sometimes saddened at how quickly the years have flown, but am truly grateful to have such a wonderful friend who shares my passions.

Arron is also an avid gardener. His texts are full of beautiful photographs of his abundant crops, gorgeous flowers, and the scenes he’s captured during his early morning walks along the countryside in upstate New York. I was inspired to paint more than a few of those landscapes.

A few years ago, he sent me a photograph of a beautiful rose he had taken in what seemed

like the early hours before the sun’s heat had a chance to dry the dew from its petals. I was immediately awestruck by its beauty and knew I had to paint it.

I purchased a 30” x 30” canvas and slowly began to put paint to canvas. I spent several months trying to capture the image’s translucency and failing miserably each time. I worked on it on and off for the better part of a year before eventually becoming very frustrated with my inability to do it justice. One day, I took it down off my easel and leaned it against the farthest wall in my studio. There it sat for months and months, staring back at me every day while I successfully painted numerous other pieces.

It nagged at me constantly like an ingrown hair. It begged to be finished, but to be honest, in my frustration, I almost threw it out. This year, I’ve had several paintings in the works, but in early March 2022, I decided to give Genesee Rose another try. This time, don’t ask me why, something clicked and I finished it in a matter of days.

When I’ve shared a photograph of “Genesee Rose” on social media, I was truly surprised at the amazing reactions and comments the painting received from readers. It’s currently on display at a local bank. Again, I was very much taken back by the positive comments expressed by several of the bank workers while I was hanging it up.

This experience has given me in-the-face clarity. I realize now that my true struggle was not necessarily in my painting ability or inability as the case may be, but in striving for perfection when I should have been looking to achieve the human expression.

I write and I paint because doing so feeds my soul and immerging myself into a creative challenge gives me immeasurable joy. In turn, for me there is no greater reward than to pass that pleasure on to others through my writing and artwork. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t walk away from a sale, but for me success isn’t measured purely in dollars and cents.

It never will be.

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