With each stroke of brilliant color, a Hannibal artist kicked off a new community outreach program at the JCPenney Salon on Wednesday, Aug. 30, as she painted a whimsical underwater scene depicting the creativity within the studio.

General Manager Paige Legg came up with the idea to display local artistic talent each month and bring a smile to customers’ faces. Designer Amy Pryor contacted Lisa Marie Richardson about creating a salon-themed work of art on the studio’s front window and displaying her artwork inside. Salon Manager Marla Frese joined Pryor and Legg in marveling at the details of Richardson’s artwork, depicting a mermaid looking at her reflection in the mirror as an octopus — complete with a fish-bone comb, hair dryer and brush — styles her hair. Frese said she looked forward to welcoming artists of all ages to create a salon-themed work of art that echoed the creative work designers perform inside each day.

“At JCPenney, we consider all our stylists artists,” Frese said. “It only seemed fitting to expand the artistic view from the inside to our outside windows.”

Frese noted that JCPenney is always looking for ways to reach out to the community, and the staff members enjoyed the “outside the box” concept. Pryor had purchased some of Richardson’s paintings in the past, and the artist knew exactly what her artwork would feature once she heard the criteria.

“I thought of the octopus and the mermaid right away, because most stylists act like they have 15 hands,” Richardson said. “I don’t know how they do all the things they do. So, you almost have to be an octopus to be a stylist, because your hands are going the whole time.”

As she crafted the scene covering the window, Richardson’s hands were busy, too.

Richardson has loved art all her life, but she didn’t really pursue projects until she became disabled when she was working as a medic in Adams County, Ill. She quickly found that she could create beautiful artwork while sitting in her wheelchair. With one canvas and set of paints, she set off on a her passion.

Today, she creates pet portraits and paintings of all varieties — Richardson said she loves large-scale artwork like the murals she painted covering an entire pool and the walls in her home. She said she felt so excited about the project at the salon, she painted walls in her home Tuesday evening. Frese said her excitement about Wednesday morning meant she could hardly sleep either.

When Richardson settled in the groove of her artwork, each of her movements with the paintbrush was measured yet rapid. Starting with the orange body of the octopus, she painted the entire work of art in an hour, adding details left to right with a method she likened to “filling in the blanks.”

Richardson and the JCPenney staff members smiled as they admired the busy octopus and pretty mermaid amid their intricate underwater world. Inside the studio, several of Richardson’s paintings were on display for sale throughout the month.

“I just can’t believe how detailed she is with it,” Legg said. “It’s one thing to draw on paper, but it’s another thing to paint on a window.”

Frese encouraged anyone who is interested in participating in the program to call her at 573-221-2858 for more information.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com