I am on a mission. It requires special creativity and inspiration. I am painting a surprise gift for my boyfriend. It isn’t easy when you are demanding of yourself and I know it will take forever to get it right. I have started well ahead of the gift date as a result. I have to make sure whenever he comes over, the painting is out of sight. When complete, I have the perfect hiding spot under a high quality mattress protector that I use to cover old canvases. It used to be in the linen closet but I found a better use for it. Whatever stage the painting is in, it will be invisible to visitors.

This is particularly important as it is a kind of expressionistic portrait with heightened color and thick brushwork. The paint brush traces are visible everywhere, a kind of chronicle of my esteem. The impasto paint will take a long time to dry and I am a little concerned about some of it rubbing off on the mattress protector. I must make sure there is space between the artwork and the vinyl. I suppose if it happens, I can use turpentine to get it off. Oil paint, in case you don’t know, takes three or more days to dry and if it is laid on in a thick manner, it may never fully dry—or at least not in a few months. I will then apply a sealer so when the painting is in my boyfriend’s home, it won’t damage the wall.

I usually use acrylic paint but it has a different texture. I wanted an old-world quality to the portrait and evidence of my influence from the great era of abstract expressionism. He knows art history and would be pleased to see this reference. This will set it apart from typical portraits that you see in galleries. While there is a good likeness and skilled brushwork, it is often thin and transparent. Most of the portraits look like they were done by one painter. Thus, my great idea to make my work different. I want it to stand the test of time. I never want my boyfriend to cast it aside, full of grime and dust from sitting in the closet. If it is a good work of art, he will mount it on the wall in public. That is my dream.

I am working diligently at the project and am making progress. The day of giving is drawing near. The paint below the surface is starting to dry and soon the top coat will follow suit. If you dry the paint with a hair dryer or heater, it will eventually crack. You can’t rush the process. Oil painting requires knowledge and skill which I have learned over time. Goodbye acrylics if this is a success. I am heading in a new direction that could be permanent. Artists discover themselves as they go along and you never know what is your destiny for sure.