There’s a creative mystery that many artists share. It’s definitely this portrait artist’s mystery.

Often, when I finish a portrait, I’m baffled …

Where did this come from?

Who painted it??

This magic has been happening to me for over 40 years, as both a portrait photographer and a portrait painter.

For many artists, it’s scary to paint commissioned portraits. They find it daunting to create an accurate likeness of someone’s loved one. I’m not afraid because I have learned that I am not painting these portraits alone.

(Cue “The Twilight Zone” theme)

🎶 Doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo! 🎶

I’m not alone because …

I have an invisible team helping me.

Could it be God? Angels? My ancestors? The soul of the person I’m painting? All of the above? I’m not sure, but I’ve learned to love, appreciate, and trust them all.

The artist, pictured with her invisible team

It would be nice if I were channeling the spirits of Michelangelo and Rembrandt … obviously not happening … but my work fulfills my creative needs and makes my clients happy. I am grateful to have been so blessed.

For me it’s challenging and fun to begin a portrait, whether it’s of a person or pet. I start with a feature that looks doable. The first stroke leads to the next and that stroke leads to the one after … on and on until … Voilà!

Each painting takes on a life of its own, which I find fascinating. Someone or something is dictating where the portrait is going. I’m supposedly making it happen, but I’m actually just along for the ride. Crazy, huh?

A strange thing occurred with a recently commissioned portrait of Jyn, a Labradoodle in Utah. The reference photo was TOO good. I couldn’t visualize how a painting would improve upon it.


Reference Photo

Work in Progress

I’ve done work for my client, Christopher, before. I was about to tell him that he should just enlarge the photo this time, but I was inspired to give the portrait a try.

I drew a rough sketch, then painted Jyn’s eyes with watercolor. Compared to the reference photo, her painted eyes looked vivid. That gave me the confidence to continue with her head.

Work in Progress

To paint Jyn’s individual hairs, I got the idea (from my invisible team?) to try pen and ink. I don’t remember ever using this technique to such an extent before. It was really fun. I built layer upon layer of black and white grainy pen strokes.

Work in Progress

For Jyn’s auburn markings, collar, and the shadows, I painted with more watercolor. To show the depth of her coat, I erased out some highlights. POW! The painting came to life. Even the plain white background looked striking. I’m still astounded at how this magic works.


“Wow, Nomi, I love it! Your work always amazes me!” Christopher

Many thanks to Christopher and my other repeat and new clients. They have kept my creative fires burning during this chilling and depressing year.

Have you experienced a creative mystery? The magic is available for you in all sorts of endeavors. Look for it and take advantage of it. It sure makes life more interesting.

Would you like to call upon my invisible team to paint and ship a stunning portrait gift for you? You can reach the team through me. Let us brighten your family’s life with one stop shopping.

If you have questions or would like to be placed on my schedule, please visit my Contact page.
Phone: 805-985-3579