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 Friendship. Oil on canvas. Small - around 16x20. Gifted to model.

Ah, this painting. It was a joke! "My sister could paint that!" I love jokes. I like turning them into reality. My little brother knows the kid in the painting; I've never actually met him. I was sent a picture, of this boy and a dog. I painted it, as a fun challenge. I hadn't painted a person in many years. It would be a new experience. I was pretty scared, to be honest. I thought there was a pretty good chance I would make him look terrible, that I would mess it all up. I tried to let go of all my apprehensions, and absolutely abolish any expectations. Expectations are one of the leading causes of unhappiness. When you're painting, I absolutely recommend throwing them straight into the trash, because they don't do anybody any good.

The lighting in the picture I had was pretty bad, and the background was dull. It was hard to see details, so I just had to do my best and kind of wing it sometimes, but that's pretty much what I do all the time anyway. I completely scrapped the old background, made up the one you see completely in my head. I love it. I love this painting. I feel like it turned out really well.

I think I painted the kid as best I could. I'm particularly fond of his shoe! I've had several people say they like the face, which is surprising to me and also a big relief because I felt like it wasn't so great. I knew I wouldn't be able to do a completely realistic face, so I didn't try to. I did the best I could with the skills I had. Faces in paintings are all shading and fine details and those are things I'm not so great at. Also, the kid in the photo was quite handsome and had the most wonderfully charming expression on his face. I really wished I had the skill to portray it. Paintings can be beautiful, but I don't think they'll ever be more beautiful than life. Sometimes I feel like a person's smile holds all the secrets of the universe. And there's just no way to paint that. I don't know how.

If there's one thing I wish I could change about this painting, it's the dog. I feel like he's a little bland, and it's too bad.