It took Ilona months to paint each hyper-realist picture using tiny 000 and 0000 brushes. She refused to use photographs, working only with her subject in front of her. If she’d painted rocks or furniture, things she could set up freputation.or a length of time, it would have been easier. But Ilona painted portraits. After winning a major portrait prize she made an adequate income from commissions for clients wealthy enough to sit the long hours she required. But,working the way she did, she’d never had a major exhibition.

Five life-size canvases, much larger than she would normally attempt, hung around the walls f her studio. Each contained an unfinished portrait of an artist who had once been her lover.

The first, Edgar, had been convinced the painting would cement both Ilona’s career and her affections for him. Four others since had posed for the strange and beguiling Ilona hoping to prove themselves equal to the demands she put upon them. The tedium of her meticulous portraits undid them all.

A visiting international curator happened upon her studio. He took one look at the unfinished portraits and wanted them. Ilona proved more fickle than her past lovers imagined.

She and the curator now live in Paris, where her half-finished paintings of lovers—she works from photographs now—command prices unimaginable in her home town.

 

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