*This story has been updated to include additional photos.
COLUMBIA — Artist Yoram Gal said he has no style.
The untrained Israeli painter, in Columbia for Saturday's 56th annual Art in the Park art show, said he doesn't confine himself to one specific style of painting.
"I have a million styles," he said.
Gal was one of more than 100 artists displaying and selling art from booths at Stephens Lake Park for the two-day event. Gray skies and an intermittent drizzle made for a small crowd Saturday morning, but more people showed up as the day went on.
Gal, a newcomer to Art in the Park, was born in Jerusalem in 1952. At age 12, he went to school in London, where he met a "fantastic" teacher who was also a young painter. He learned from the teacher that art can't be taught.
Gal said he never accepted professional training in painting and that it would only limit his creation.
"I do what I like," he said. "And the professor can go jump in the lake."
His inspiration comes from everything in his life, his family and his imagination, he said.
One painting hanging in Gal's booth, called "Our Heavenly Trip," depicted his journey to Virginia Beach for an art show with his then-13-year-old son in June 2013. Gal painted himself and his son, their house in Israel, the books they read together — Crime and Punishment and Candide — his art booth in Virginia Beach, their flight, three museums they visited in Philadelphia and even a pair of Crocs he bought in Denver.
Dozens of other paintings of all different styles were for sale in his booth. But there was one painting Gal said he would never sell.
It is called "Evolution." Five weeks ago, when he sat down to paint one morning, he said he felt a fleeting moment of inspiration.
"It's something from the subconscious and something personal. I don't know where it came," he said.
He said the painting took him less than an hour.
"It changed my whole life," Gal said. "I have never had one like this."
In another booth, Jenny McGee, wearing a red shirt, red earrings and a red necklace, quietly stood beside her painting, "Passion in Red."
Sometimes she would greet people she knew as they passed by. She is a local artist living in Columbia, and this was her fourth year at Art in the Park.
McGee used to be a graphic designer, with a degree in graphic design from Missouri State University in 2002. However, she felt it was not what she wanted to do.
"You have to follow where your heart is telling you to, no matter what," McGee said. "This life is too short."
She decided to pursue art. She first set up a studio at home and painted secretly.
"I didn't think I could do it," she said.
But she was able to find success. In 2007 she joined an artist collective in El Salvador and began showing her work in international exhibitions. She moved to Columbia in 2009 and opened a studio at Orr Street Studios.
She paints on wood panels using acrylic, sand, crushed pearl and a soy-based varnish. McGee said painting on wood panel, rather than canvas, helps preserve the textures of her materials. She said she came up with the idea of using pearl in her paintings.
"Pearl is a symbol of our fragility as humans, as well as our worthiness as part of a larger community," she said.
She said she believes art has a healing power and that its colors, emotions and the story behind it can have a positive effect on people.
"I am inspired by the healing process." she said.
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