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@rosemarya It's always been true that I have deeper reasons for being drawn to paint something and it gives me a reason to explore. I am always painting a "self portrait" because whatever I paint, it is always my expression of how I look at something and how I relate to the subject. I just get an idea usually from something I see that moves me, and it is much later after the painting is finished when I think about it and how it relates to my life, that I find another meaning. I am a visual story teller, and although I might be telling a story about someone or something else, I am painting my connection to it.

The portrait painting of my Mayo surgeon is a good example and I've given your question some thought. The background of the painting shows the intricate detail of Mayo's Plummer building doors and all the carved figures on it. I loved that building and all the history it represents. It was a huge challenge to paint that much detail with accuracy, and to essentially break the rules by putting a lot of detail in the background of the painting. By doing this, I literally put the history of Mayo Clinic behind my surgeon, and that makes sense because he was trained at Mayo and teaches there, so he is part of the history. That was a conscious choice. I wanted to offset the blue in his scrubs with the golden colors by design, as they are close to "complimentary colors" on the color wheel that visually pop and enhance each other.

At the time I came to Mayo in need of spine surgery, I was loosing the ability to hold my arms up to do anything because of my spine problem. I had been denied by five other surgeons over a two year period, and during that time, I was taking care of my elderly parents. Those were the hardest two years of my life, and my dad passed. I think it was supposed to happen that way, and I had more time to spend with my dad at the end of his life.

After my dad's services, Mayo called me for an appointment. Then I met Dr. Fogelson who was kind and it was the first time I didn't have fear meeting a surgeon at a medical appointment and I was then able to take time for my own care. It was in the loss my ability to paint well that was speaking the loudest to me, and I decided that I had to face my fears in order to get my artistic gift back, and that I could use my art to help me do that (which is how I got started doing sketches of my surgeon). Art work led me to Mayo where art has always been intertwined with healing, and in the painting, the designs on the Plummer building doors also intertwine art and medical symbols and lead the viewer right to Dr. Fogelson. He is the calm in the center of everything, and that is what he was to me. For the first time, I was able to embrace my future and I finally had an answer and an offer of medical help. I also got something unexpected at that meeting. Dr. Fogelson liked my art work. I brought one of my paintings with me to show him what I needed to be able to do, and it gave us a connection.

There is a door way in the painting…..which is the "door" that I entered when I came to Mayo embraced by all the artwork around it…. a door that opened new possibilities in my life and a surgery that gave me my life back and I am meeting Dr. Fogelson at that door. I broke the rules by painting lots of details in the background of the painting, but I also broke the rules in my own diagnosis when I figured out what all five of my prior specialists missed about my case. I found medical literature with cases similar to mine, and I found that because I looked up a term in one of Dr. Fogelson's papers. It was right after the fifth surgeon dismissed me, and no medical personnel at that facility would help me bring the literature to his attention. I was the patient who connected my symptoms with my medical imaging that the surgeons missed and my Mayo surgeon helped me do that even before I met him.

A painting of a surgeon needs to show his hands, and when I was planning the painting, I asked Dr. Fogelson about what he usually does which is to intertwine his fingers, and this forms a circle, that brings the viewer up to his face and back to his hands. It keeps the viewer in the calm center of the painting which is the doctor. A circle also represents trust. I trusted my life to this doctor, and he trusted me and gave me permission to represent him in a painting. That is from a doctor who said he usually doesn't like pictures of himself, but that he loved this painting…. and he did… his face lit up with joy the first time he saw the portrait. There is a reflection of the doctor in the glass door behind him and the Mayo building where his office is, and this painting is also a reflection of him as the compassionate person that he is. That is what you see in his face, the kindness in his eyes, the genuine smile, and the enthusiasm of a man who loves his job.

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Replies to "@rosemarya It's always been true that I have deeper reasons for being drawn to paint something..."

@jenniferhunter That is an amazing explanation and beautiful painting. The detail! And thank you for sharing your insight and artists POV. I love hearing about the creative process. Being a writer myself, I think it's fascinating examining what our work can uncover about ourselves and the world at large.

PS–I love those doors as well. That building!

What an extraordinary painting. You have undoubtedly captured the essence of Dr. Fogelson and your trust in him and his skill shines through. An exceptional man and physician, obviously.

wow. Superb likeness