My version of “the girl with the pearl earring” acrylic on wood.

April 2023
The girl with the pearl earring, painted by Johannes Vermeer in 1665, was the subject of my art class when I was visiting Austin in March.

I wanted to try to paint her and capture her most significant quality, which to me, was her timeless “expectancy of good”. The face depicts innocence, hope, trust and a beauty of illumination.

When I was visiting Austin, I saw that “face of illumination” many times, in my mind’s eye, and it inspired me.

I saw it, when an artist I know, who does not have a lot of money, still anonymously left a ten dollar tip, for the cleaning lady, who was to come and clean the room at the hotel later in the day.

I saw it in the night manager, who gave some people a certificate for a free breakfast, for no reason other than to be nice.

I saw it again, when someone who could sell things to make some money, instead donated a lot of things to ACR in Austin, for them to sell to others, who might need inexpensive craft resources.

And then I saw it with a large corporation, who made room in their storage area for one individual, an employee, who needed space to store some personal items, but could not afford to rent a storage unit.

That girl with the pearl earring… her very real face, was there in my experience, mirroring my thought, at each place I went, with every timeless act of selflessness, kindness and thoughtfulness that I saw. I recognize this face and it is not artificial, and still is illuminated, hundreds of years later, in the faces and the kindnesses of the beautiful people around me, moment by moment.

I know that the face in that painting, and it has now become famous, and has attracted thousands and thousands of visitors, year after year. But the face is not stunning, and not that unusual, in fact that face could be someone we might run into on our way to the grocery store. The beauty I think, is in the evidence of simplistic purity and inner light.

This obvious inner light, enhanced by the artists supreme ability to portray external light, is compelling, and not mysterious, not fictional, and not pretense, in spite of all the musings to the contrary.

When things in the world today might seem dark, unfair, confusing, or scary, I like to hold that picture up, and look at what it represents, because to me THAT is what is real. Real people are like that.

I can see and know, that there are many, who like me, keep a similar picture alive in their minds eye as well, because it represents what calm trust, and a life of goodness and generosity looks like.

I believe that when we keep such a perfect picture as this in our thought, as representative of our life goals, we can bring those qualities exhibited in that painting, to fruition as well, in our own experiences…and what a joy to behold, and keep alive.



Melissa Ann Howell Schier

HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.