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The Seven Year Painting

© Deborah Dal Zuffo and Little Pine Studios
Deborah Dal Zuffo

I have a friend named Deborah. “Deborah Doll" is one of those gals that could make a simple one hour lunch break become a mini-adventure. You just never knew what was going to happen when she was around.

She and I met while I lived and worked in Santa Barbara. She would come in to the Post where I was manager and we would just enjoy each other's company. I used to call her son Deborah-spawn (which he didn't seem to mind overmuch, and always brought a smile to Deb's face because she knew I said it in love).

Another one of the 2.5 million reasons I enjoy Deb so much is that she is an artist. Deb's art is simple and moving. Not only does she have organic talent, but she also possesses a hard-earned technique. I'll never forget the time she showed me a maple leaf she had created using water color five minutes before I walked into her office building. It was breathtakingly simple. Check out her gallery on her website, Little Pine Studio.

Now, I don't know how we managed to do it, but somehow back in 2003 I gave her a commission to paint "me". She agreed to do it, and I gave her some inspiration (a scrapbook I made from my first years at college. It had song lyrics, short stories, poetry, images, etc.).We laughed hysterically at the imaginings of her creative possibility.

I moved to Oxnard in 2005, and kept in touch. In 2006 I moved to Arizona, 2007 I moved to the Atlantic shores. When I left there in 2011 to come back to my California roots, I made it a point to go to Santa Barbara for a visit during Spring Break 2012. I saw friends that I always enjoy spending time with, and I reconnected with Deborah Doll.

As if we'd never been apart, we went laughing all the way to the Botanical Gardens in Santa Barbara. It was just like old times... silly jokes, random deep moments, and eating at The Palace Grill (Side note: seriously folks, make your way to The Palace if at all possible at some point in your life). It was a glorious day with my friend. I love days like that.

The best thing about this whole get-together was my painting! Our friendship's early history shined out as part of each brush stroke and inserted jewel. I never told her of my love of purple or my growing appreciation of dragonflies. She got it all from the scrapbook, her experience of me, and her own artistic process. She never gave it a title, but I immediately called it The Seven Year Painting. Every time I look at it, I feel a hug and a big bright sunny-day-in-Santa-Barbara smile from her.