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A Brush With Love

Grade: D

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Nick Bateman - Max

Arielle Kebbel - Jamie

We start the movie at the Canvas Creations School of Art, or at least the backyard of it…I think…I can’t really see under all the fake flowers and AstroTurf.

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Meet Jamie, the art teacher and maybe-owner of the school.

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As the movie opens we can hear her teaching her students, “Remember, there are no end goals, no right and wrong in art. No perfect finished product. What we are trying to do here is take what is in your heart and put it on a canvas.”


Maybe she should call her school, the Canvas Creations School of Platitudes and Clichés.


Next, we see Jamie and her parents scouting for a second location for the art school. We learn that her dad retired last year from his job of “building businesses,” (whatever that means), and now he is super bored. He seems excited to help his daughter create a franchise.


Jamie meets her best friend Eva at the Farmer’s Market. As she walks up to Eva, we can hear Eva’s husband Tom saying, “Have I told you in the last five minutes how much I love you?” (blech).


Tom and Eva are blurry in this shot because they are not as important.

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Tom leaves and Eva says to Jamie, “Maybe it time to start dating again? It’s been years!”


Side Note: Oh brother, once again our Hallmark heroine is a single, lonely, model-beautiful woman who just can’t seem to find a boyfriend even though she probably has guys throwing their numbers at her as she walks by.


Jamie tells Eva that she just toured a place that would be perfect for a second art school and her friend responds, “Art school was supposed to be the thing you did on the side of painting and if you expand you are not going to have time to paint or submit to showcases.”


First of all, not true Eva - it’s called painting on the weekends. Second, you should probably Google "supportive friend" so you can understand what you are not.


Then Eva gives us the following mountain of information buried in three short sentences - so I hope you all have good reading comprehension skills. FYI I had to rewind the movie three times and edit the statement below to make it readable.


“Now for the really exciting news - the Cherry Blossom Arts Festival is in three weeks! This year the venue for the festival will be the botanical gardens instead of the mayoral mansion which means that, as head employee of the special events permitting office, I will be working directly with the organizers of the festival. Jamie, now I can put in a good word for your submission in the Emerging Artists Showcase!”


However, Jamie tells Eva she’s not submitting a piece this year, because she's been rejected too many times in the past, and she’s sick of watching other people win her dream prize of a trip to Paris to show their paintings.


Side note: Girlfriend, I know exactly how you feel. I am super sick of other people driving around in my Tesla dream car.


At the words “dream” Eva’s eyes bug out and she says she has an idea about how Jamie’s dreams can become realities. Then she drags Jamie to a craft store so that she can make a vision board.

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Side Note: Now I don’t know much about vision boards or what they do, but I know Oprah made one, so if it is good enough for milady Oprah, then it’s good enough for me.


Here they are walking home past a million fake flowers and BTW when do you ever see this many flowers growing around a tree in the sidewalk? And why do they just stop all of the sudden? Because it looks like that tree is wearing a hula skirt.

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When they get to Jamie’s apartment, they find out that Max, Eva’s younger brother, will be moving in next door to Jamie. Jamie, whose known him all her life, says he drives her crazy.


Here he is saying, “Hey neighbor!” from the back of a moving truck. What a nice guy! Meanwhile, Jamie is standing there saying “eeew not Max” and looking like she just swallowed a bug.

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Uh, ladies? You know he can hear your conversation, right?

He is literally right next to you.

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Max got a job as a groundskeeper and his sister says, “You got a master’s degree in landscape architecture to work as a groundskeeper at the botanical gardens?”


Wow, Eva is really judgmental about other people’s job choices.


This is where Jamie, an art school teacher, lives.

Thanks Mom and Dad.

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Max knocks on her door to return the supplies for the vision board that she left downstairs, and she looks super annoyed. She throws him a sarcastic “thanks” and shuts the door in his face. Okay, I’m sort of getting why she doesn’t have a boyfriend now.

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Her Dad, who to be clear will be funding her second school, calls to tell her that they need to decide by the end of the week on whether to sign the lease for the new space. Jamie says, “Why wait? …let’s sign.”


Side Note: Sure Dad, why ponder the pros and cons? It’s not my money on the line so where's the pen?


Next Jamie tries to sneak out past Max’s apartment to go for a jog, but Max intercepts her and follows her the park. He tells her, “I’m starting to get the impression that you are not happy that I moved in downstairs. Did I do something to bother you?” Great question Max!


Ah, now we find out the origin of Jamie’s hostility towards Max. Apparently he made her life “miserable“ with pranks and jokes as a kid. He called her Jamie-Smell-Amie for one thing…the nerve! What an a**hole!


Furthermore, he wrote her love letters for an entire year to prank her into thinking she had a secret admirer. We will find out later that she liked the letters so much that she still has them, but whatever…there’s no time like the present to make someone pay for a 15-year-old childhood grudge - am I right?


And now, for your enjoyment, we have the trademark hokey tripping scene which can be found in 75% of all Hallmark romance movies, because apparently, a woman falling into a man's arms really dials up the sexual tension.

Sadly, the ponderously staged way these scenes are shot just makes for really stupid TV. 


Hey Hallmark, we don’t actually need to see the heroine's foot hitting his shoe, or the rock, or the purse, or whatever else her clumsy a** is tripping over that day. If you are going to turn women into full-on damsels in distress...just have them fall already. We don’t need the scientific evidence that caused it. We get it – women are klutzes.

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Then Max asks about her dating life and she loses her mind.


“Uh…I left my iron on. I gotta go.”

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Eva continues to hound Jamie to make a vision board and Jamie finally agrees, however she will paint it instead of using clippings and photos because “collage-ing” is beneath her. Eva also tells Jamie that an art curator, (Rene), will be stopping by to review her art pieces to see if any could be a possible entry in the emerging artists showcase.


“But I don’t have anything to show her!” Jamie whines. Then Eva spies her painting apron and shouts – “Wait a minute, have you been painting? Have you been vision boarding! SHOW ME!”



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So, this is her vision board. According to Jamie, it represents her dream of having an exhibition of her art in a colonnade in Paris, along with the idea that the man she loves would be there, bringing her a rose to congratulate her.


Whew! Thank goodness she explained it! I thought it was a dead faceless spirit ghoul bringing me a rose for my grave since he was about to kill me.


In the next scene all the paperwork is being completed on the new lease for the second art school. It looks like Jamie’s dad is signing everything, so I guess it is his a** on the line for the monthly payments starting now.

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The realtor passes her Dad the keys and then Dad turns and hands the keys to Jamie. Dear scriptwriters, you couldn’t have made Jamie seem less self-sufficient if you tried. If she calls him “daddy” or he calls her “princess” even once, I am turning off this TV.

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Back to the art school where Michael Herman, the head of the Herman foundation that sponsors the Emerging Artist Showcase, is knocking on her front door. He wants to join Jamie’s painting class!


BTW who knocks on the door of a business? Jamie comes over and simply opens the door for him so it wasn’t as if it was locked or anything.


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He says, “Am I too late to join the art class? Do you take drop ins?”


It’s an art school for kids! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Should he join anyway?

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Jamie coaxes him to stay, and because she’s pretty he stays. He asks her to check out his painting and that’s not all she checks out.


Hmmm…your long brush strokes and use of floral tones suggest you need a girlfriend.

And oh my, your arms are so toned – do you work out?

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He paints two pictures and stays behind after all the kids leave to ask for one on one instruction. Uh huh.


Later, Jamie runs into Max and he tags along with her to the Farmer’s Market. He finds out she is painting again and that she’s also opening up a second art school, and decides she is in dire need of his opinions on her life choices.


Max: If you are running two locations where does that leave time for painting?

Jamie: Oh, I’ll paint on the side.

Max: You’re not a paint on the side-er. Don’t you think you should be focusing on your art?


Geez, this dude is as bad as his sister. Also, according to the storyline this guy floats around from job to job and city to city and girlfriend to girlfriend, so I’m not sure he is the best one to be leading a discussion on focus.


After this we are back watching Jamie work on her scary death painting vision board. Apparently, she works on it all night because Eva brings her coffee in the morning after which we get the joyous opportunity of seeing her terrible painting again as Eva gushes over it. Eva wants to show this piece to art curator Rene, but Jamie says, “No way Jose” and I couldn’t agree with her more. Seriously, just bury the thing.


Rene comes to view Jamie’s other paintings and her opinion is that her work feels forced and too safe. Does Jamie have anything else to show her?

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Eva then takes this opportunity to completely overstep herself and shows Rene Jamie’s painting of Satan vision board. Rene screams and drops dead the moment she sees it.


Just kidding…(although this would have made a great Hallmark Movie and Mystery). Rene loves it. Apparently, it’s bold, it takes a chance, and more blah, blah, blah lies. Bottom line, Jamie is in the showcase.


Next scene: she goes to the new leased space to find her dad working there. She says, “Someone’s been busy!” which is a tad insensitive since her Dad has doubtless been paying her rent here since he signed the lease and presumably BOTH of them should be busy making good use of his funds – but apparently…not.

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Jamie assures him, “Dad, as soon as I turn in this painting for the showcase you will have my undivided attention.”


However, in the very next scene we see her sketching at the botanical gardens which is neither working on her painting nor helping her Dad. Let’s rephrase her promise:


“Dad, as soon as I turn in this painting for the showcase and do some light sketching around town you will have my undivided attention.” That’s better.


Uh oh! Here comes annoying Max!

They talk about cherry blossoms and perfection and walk around the gardens…I don’t remember all the details because inane conversation makes me sleepy. I tried to ask my daughter, Annelise, what I missed but she’d fallen asleep already.


Next up is Jamie’s one on one “class” with Michael. I can only assume she is doing this after hours which is yet another time commitment that has nothing to do with her painting or with helping her Dad, so let’s rephrase her promise once more:


“Dad, as soon as I turn in this painting for the showcase and do some light sketching around town and teach this cute guy I met some art, you will have my undivided attention.” Perfect.


During the “class” we learn that Michael needs stability and hates getting messy so basically, he is the polar opposite of Max.


Hi there. Thanks for coming. Tonight, you’ll be sketching some delicious chilled white wine and strawberries by candlelight. I’ll go put on some soft jazz.

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Ahh! I said no messy! No messy!

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Jamie brings her kids to the botanical gardens to sketch a tree. She runs into Max and he tells her to meet him at the roses after her class ends and he will give her a behind-the-scenes tour. Then Max shows her a sea of fake flowers and says this is his next project.

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Side Note: I gotta be honest here, I was a little disappointed. I thought a behind-the-scenes tour of a botanical garden would be more interesting than. “See these plants? I have to plant them.”


Jamie’s response, “You think you’ll stick around long enough to see it finished?” Ouch!


Jamie notices that they are holding interviews for a landscape architecture position at the gardens and she asks Max why he isn’t going for it? Max responds, “Way too much responsibility. There’s no way I’m getting tied down with the obligations and responsibilities…life should be an adventure.”


Well said, Peter Pan.


Michael finally asks Jamie out on a date for the next night. Then he gives her a flower…just like the zombie man in the painting!


Uh oh, is it just me or has the zombie moved closer to us in the painting? Yikes! Here I’ll fix it.

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Now Jamie is at dinner with Eva and she tells her that she thinks the vision board man is Michael. Then she gets a text from Max that says, “Meet me at the gardens tomorrow.” She agrees and Eva notices that there seems to be more than just friendship between the two of them.


Side Note: Oh dear, it looks like we need to update our promise to Dad again with all these new commitments which neither relate to painting your showcase piece, or helping with the new school. I think I need to bullet these now…


“Dad, as soon as I:

turn in this painting for the showcase and

do some light sketching around town and

teach this cute guy I met some art, and

have dinner with friends and

go on a date with shadow man and

have a vague meeting with my annoying neighbor … will have my undivided attention.”


Whew! Got it.


When Jamie shows up at the gardens this is what Max wanted to do. Yeah, this is way more critical than fulfilling your dream or helping your Dad.


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Jamie calls Max out on this activity since it is very date-like, but Max says it is just two friends cycling. Sure, whatever.

We learn that Canvas Creations was her Plan B that has become her Plan A. She says she needs to go, but Max talks her into having a popsicle. These are all great dates ideas for a thirteen-year-old.

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While she is munching her popsicle, Jamie starts reminiscing about the fake secret admirer prank he pulled on her in high school. Then she tells him she actually really liked her secret admirer letters and kept them all these years.


At this point we all know that Max really did like her in high school, the letters were real, and he still likes her. So, when she says she kept the letters all these years it should be a “wow” moment for him right? Instead, he just tilts his head a little and looks like this…blander than bland. Seriously, his hair is showing more emotion here.

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Jamie calls Rene to tell her that she will be turning in her painting tomorrow and we get to see the finished piece. It looks like the only major addition she’s made is to take up about 1/6th of the real estate of her canvas for her signature.


What a bold addition.

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Michael picks her up for their date and takes her to a music in the park event where she sees this...colonnades that look very much like the ones in her painting.

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She also finds out that Michael heads up the Herman Arts Foundation that is putting on the Emerging Artists Showcase. He has nothing to do with the judging so there is no conflict of interest with her entry, however he WILL see her painting, and with the similarities between the flower, the colonnades, and the art show depictions in her painting he will probably think it represents him.


So, instead of just explaining the coincidence and immediately showing him the painting, (thereby negating the colonnades at least), she decides to pull the painting from the competition entirely. Honestly, I don’t follow her logic. What’s the worst that could happen? He is flattered? He doesn’t believe her, thinks she is a stalker, and storms out? This is her “big dream” right? Is she going to give that all up for a guy she has been on one date with?


Side Note:

Dear Scriptwriters,


So far, this character seems very unmotivated, she gives up way to easily, and she has to be pushed into everything she does. Can you please give her some gumption asap? I fully realize that she will get everything she wants by the end of this movie, but it would really help if it all didn’t just fall into her lap as if she is living in one big fairy unicorn dream. Even Cinderella worked for it.





Now she has 4 days to finish another painting, so she calls Rene to tell her, “I need a few more days.”

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Jamie stops by the new store where her Dad and now her Mom are working themselves to the bone doing all her work for her.

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Her Mom hands her a coffee, (good grief is there anything else they can do for her? A foot rub, a shoulder massage?), and then asks her about Michael. Jamie says that when she first met him she got fluttery, but now that feeling has passed, (like gas).


Now we see Jamie standing in front of a bare easel and Max walks in with some cookies he just made. He says he needed to get them out of the apartment before he ate them all, so he thought of her. Hmm…pretty flimsy reason to stop by, but okay.

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She tells him she needs inspiration and that, if she were advising her art students, she would tell them to be more “playful.” What follows next is the slowest, dullest paint fight I have ever seen.


Max slowly gets paint on his finger and leisurely makes a mark on her cheek. “That was playful no?” he says.

No. No it was not.


Jamie marks his cheek in return and then he….oh brother, just forget it. I’m out. I never realized that playtime could be tedious but yes it can. I’m going to make a sandwich.


In the end she “oopsie!” spins into his arms and whispers, “I should get back to work with her lips two inches from his.

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Next up she is on her date with Michael at the art show and…dang it! Now I have to change her promise to her Dad again! This is getting old.


“Dad, as soon as I:

turn in this painting for the showcase and

do some light sketching around town and

teach this cute guy I met some art, and

have dinner with friends and

go on a date in the park with Michael and

get a very poor behind-the-scenes tour of the botanical gardens and

have a popsicle and cycling experience and

go to an art show ..........…you will have my undivided attention.”


This better be it, Princess.


At the art show, Michael tells Jamie that he supports the idea of opening a second art school and keeping her painting on the side. He thinks this is the more stable way to go. She listens attentively and then immediately breaks up with him.

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The next scene opens with me trying to ignore the fact that Max is putting dirt on fake flowers outside their apartment building.


Geez Hallmark, how much do eight actual plants cost? Seriously?

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He catches Jamie coming in from her date and gives her some cherry blossoms for inspiration.


Next, we see Jamie comparing the flower that Michael gave her earlier, which is dead as a doornail by now, with the cherry blossoms from Max. Is she comparing the flowers or the men? My, the imagery here is so profound. Then she decides to use the live flowers in her painting instead of the dead one. What a total and utter surprise.


As she gets herself ready to work on her painting, a question pops into my mind - if she had only 4 days to complete her entry, why is she going on dates to art shows? This character has the focus of a firefly.


Her dad calls the next morning since they were supposed to pick out paint together for the school, and he is wondering where she is. “Dad I’m so sorry! My piece is due in three days and I was up all night working on it, (after I got home from my date). I completely forgot we were meeting! #priorities


Now she is setting up the annual art show at Canvas Creations – did she need to have this right before the showcase? Seriously, you couldn’t have pushed a kids art show back one week?


Here’s Jamie at the art show in a cute dress which, in all honesty, is the best thing about this movie so far.

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During the Canvas Creations Art Show, Jamie and Max are having a bit of a tete a tete (see below) but, uh oh! Michael shows up...awkward!


Hey girl.

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Michael took Jamie’s suggestion and decided to display his art to the world. Or, in this case, to a bunch of eleven year olds and their parents.


Hello? Can someone let me in? I brought a painting. Hello? It looks fun in there. Are those cupcakes? I love cupcakes. Hello?

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During the show, Max sees Jamie talking to Michael and asks his sister who he is. Since Eva has no idea that they have broken up already, she tells Max that Michael is dating Jamie. Max says, “Yeah, I gotta go,” and leaves.


Evidently, he immediately goes home, cooks a romantic dinner for Jamie, and jumps into the hallway as she is going up the stairs to her apartment to say, “Are you hungry? I cooked dinner.”


Side Note: I would just like to say that I have personally never seen this style of courtship before. You know, where the guy lays in wait for the girl and then jumps out to surprise-ask her to do things, or where he’ll invite himself to tag along on her errands and jogs, or maybe he’ll just drop by her apartment unannounced. I mean it’s great if the girl likes you back, but if she doesn’t, I’m pretty sure there’ll be a 911 call in there somewhere.


So here is Max’s apartment. Mmmm…okay, I wasn’t expecting the white string lights around the windows, or that he would own table runners …but I’m flexible…let’s move on.

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Max gets down to business and confesses to being her true secret admirer in high school, and then he tells her he has feelings for her. Jamie basically responds, “Thanks but you never stick around so…” He reassures her that he has always liked her and that is not going to go anywhere, and then they eat his dinner of cheesy potatoes.


Back to her painting. She‘s done with painting number 2! She’s happy with it! Want to see it? No, you don’t.

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She finally goes to pick paint colors for the new school with her dad. Please note that she has made him wait on this decision for quite a while already only to say, “You decide.” Gee, I’m worried the delays have cost this nice man more money in rent than he needed to pay. I also think I am probably the only one worried about this.

On a positive note we get a nice shot of her outfit here which is awesome.


Where’s Mom with my coffee…I’ve been here for five minutes already!

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She finally comes clean with her Mom and says she wants to paint first and teach when she has time. Her Mom says “tell your father” which she proceeds not to do.


Now she meets with Rene and tells her, “I have a painting – it is not the painting you approved, but this one is so much better!”

Rene sees a photo of it on a cell phone, likes it, and says, “You’ll have this delivered to me by tonight?”

YES, tonight! (barring any unforeseen romantic events), promises Jamie (who always keeps promises).

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Jamie confesses to Eva that she has feelings for Max. Then Eva turns around and tells Max that Jamie deserves someone who can commit. Max takes this to heart, so he breaks up with Jamie. Huh?


You heard me right. After all this time and effort, (my time and effort), this dumba** is blowing her off. He says she deserves better and he wants her to be happy. She is super mad. So am I. He could have figured this out an hour ago.


I would like to give props to Arielle Kebbel who had to act the break up scene opposite someone who gave her absolutely nothing in return to emote off of. Nick Bateman looks like he’s asleep with his eyes open in most of his shots.

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Oh sweet baby Jesus! Look at her new creation…for crying out loud stop painting your boyfriends!

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Then she angrily paints him out like this…which I have no problem with.

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She gets a text from Rene saying, “I didn’t receive your entry, so I had no choice but to replace your painting – I’m sorry.” I have no idea why she is apologizing to someone this flaky.


Next, we see Jamie staring at her empty painting chair. For some reason this gives her an epiphany and she gets up to paint. What just happened? I am totally lost.


She goes to see her parents and tells them that she still doesn’t want to give up on painting. She apologizes to her dad, (thank goodness), and says she wants to paint and teach when she can. She proposes that she consults as an artist in residence if he could keep Canvas Creations going and run the business. Dad says YES!! Great, get back to work Dad.


Now we are at the show and Jamie shows Rene her third painting. (Man, this chick is more prolific than Thomas Kinkade). And, even though a “real world” Rene would probably have run in the other direction, Hallmark Rene loves the third painting and says she can “sort of” show Jamie’s new piece.


If we find out later that Rene is legally blind I will not be surprised.


Then Eva makes a confession to Jamie. She tells her that she convinced her brother to leave Jamie alone since he can’t commit and she didn’t want Jamie to get hurt, so apparently nothing is Max’s fault. Jamie runs to the botanical garden and interrupts Max’s job interview for landscape architect. Max says he doesn’t want to regret not being with her and blah, blah, blah – they get together.


Next, they are both back at the showcase and we see her last painting which Rene hung in a tree. It is a self-portrait that looks suspiciously like a colorized accented photo.


I call this one, “One Eye Poser Pants”

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Rene tells Jamie, “After the show, come see me and we will talk about a group showing.”


Then she trots off, I am guessing to her eye appointment.


Finally. Can I go now?

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  • Her outfits were awesome.

  • Better than counting sheep I guess



  • Hallmark owes me 2 hours of my life back.

  • Her paintings were terrible

  • Max was about as charismatic as a rock

  • No comic relief, and by “relief” I mean actual relief.



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Credits: All photos, unless otherwise indicated, have come from the Hallmark Movie “A Brush with Love” which can be viewed on the Hallmark Channel

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