He kept her answering machine message, even re-recorded it onto his laptop, so that he could listen to at least this small sample of her voice: You've reached Terrie and Brian at 510-555-2227. We aren't here. Talk to the box. The slight vowel lilt in "reached," the subtly rolled r's brought back to him the sheen of her unclothed body in firelight, the hard sharp peaks of her pelvic girdle, the little hollows marking the base of her spine.
When out of town, he would call each evening but never left a message. After all, he knew she wasn't home.
There is never a question of what to paint but only how to paint.
The how of painting has always been the image's end-product.