Skip to main content

Unexplained Phenomena: The Painting That Came to Life

Cindy is an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.

In this edition, a road warrior notices something odd about the art on the wall of his motel room.

In this edition, a road warrior notices something odd about the art on the wall of his motel room.

A Room for the Night

Hank Wright* was employed for many years as a traveling auditor for a company based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. As part of his duties, he was required to spend a good deal of time on the road. It was while on one of these work-related trips that he stopped at a roadside motel that was no different from the dozens of others he had stayed in over the course of his career—or so he thought.

He recalls that it was around eight o'clock on a weekday evening when he checked in. After being handed the key, he made his way to the room for the night.

At first glance, he found the decor to be the standard motel fare. The only thing that he thought was a bit unusual was that, hanging alongside the mass-produced art he was accustomed to seeing in such establishments was a canvas piece that had obviously been painted by hand.

Though he admits that he is no expert in the field, to his eye, the work was pretty basic. It depicted the outside of a motel or inn that was surrounded by trees with rays of sun shining through their branches. Standing in a semi-circle in front of the structure were six figures, all of them male, who appeared to be deeply absorbed in conversation. That was all there was to it. Unless it had been painted by the owner or someone close to him who was hoping to find an audience, he couldn't imagine why it had been put on display.

Suddenly struck with a hunger pang, he had walked across the way to a gas station where he bought a few items to get him through the night. When he got back to his room, he turned on the television, propped himself up in bed, and dug into the food he had just purchased.

At some point, his attention had once again been drawn to the painting. He wasn't certain, but he thought that it looked different than it had earlier in the evening. Now, only five men were gathered, while a sixth stood off to the side gazing up at the sky.

Thinking that he had simply been mistaken about what he had seen when he first walked in, he didn't read too much into it at the time. Since the content couldn't possibly have changed, he assumed that his tired eyes had been playing tricks on him.

As the night ticked away, he got ready for bed. A right-side sleeper, he had turned over to face the wall where the painting hung and prepared to drift off to dreamland. In those moments, two things grabbed his attention.

The first was that parts of the imagery had darkened, while other areas had taken on an unearthly glow. The space above the trees was especially bright, as if the moon was now hovering over the group of men who were the focal point of the piece.

Hank knew then that something was up. Although he could have been wrong about the prior placement of the figures, he distinctly remembered that the scene he had initially viewed was set in the daytime, as evidenced by the sunshine that had been beaming down in the background.

The other thing that had caused him to sit up and take notice was that the group was now evenly divided in half. Three men were still in their original positions, while the rest were standing several feet away, all of them looking towards the heavens.

No matter how much he wanted to believe differently, he knew that this was not the same painting he had seen a few hours earlier. He prided himself on his observational skills and was convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that either the painting had somehow been switched out for another or had done the impossible and transformed without ever leaving the wall.



While neither scenario made practical sense, Hank had no choice but to accept that the latter was the more likely of the two. He reasoned that he had been able to see every corner of the room from the bed, which he had left only once to use the restroom. No stranger to the perils of staying in hole-in-the-wall motels, he had made sure that the door was locked up tight immediately after it closed behind him. If someone had managed to sneak in and exchange paintings, not once but twice, they had done so with the stealth of a cheetah on the hunt.

Determined to have a front-row seat should the latest depiction change yet again, he seated himself on the edge of the bed so that he wouldn't miss anything. After remaining in that uncomfortable position for as long as his aching back would allow, he had been forced to lie down. Even so, he kept his eyes trained on the perplexing piece of art until the need for sleep had finally overtaken him.

When he awoke a few hours later, the first thing he saw was the painting. In the morning light, he noted that it had returned to its original state while he slumbered. The six men who had been separated into two groups the last time he checked were now back in formation, standing side by side in a half-circle.

Although he confesses that he was coming down from a long day when these events occurred, he insists that he was not under the influence of anything that would have clouded his judgment or caused him to hallucinate. As incredible as it sounds, even to him, he maintains that the figures portrayed on the canvas had moved from one place to another and then back again in the span of a few hours. How this could have been possible is as inexplicable as what came next.


Thank You, Don't Come Again

After showering and gathering up his belongings, Hank headed to the front desk to return the key and check out. The clerk was a young woman who looked to be in her late-20s. His curiosity getting the better of him, he made a few inquiries about the painting. He didn't mention its unique capabilities but did ask if he could have some information about the work, including the name of the artist, which had been conspicuously absent.

He was disappointed to learn that she was a recent hire and knew nothing about the furnishings or where they came from. In an attempt to be helpful, she had offered to have the manager get in touch with him. He told her that he would appreciate anything she could do before thanking her and going on his way.

Days turned into weeks, and the much-anticipated call never came. Unwilling to let the incident go, Hank contacted the motel several times by phone and email but was never able to communicate with the one person who may have held the answers to his questions.

Six months later, another business trip happened to take him within thirty miles of the place that he was convinced housed a treasure like no other. Even though he could have saved himself some time by stopping over in one of the many lodgings along his route, he chose to drive to the motel where the painting was located.

When the time came to check in, he specifically asked for the room he had stayed in on his previous visit. Relieved to find that it was available, he grabbed the key and made a beeline out the door.

Better prepared than he had been the first time around, he had brought along a digital camera so that he could take photos of the changes with the intention of having them published in his hometown newspaper. After witnessing the phenomena and being unable to forget the experience, he felt that it was something that everyone should see.

Upon entering the room and turning on the light, he saw a framed print hanging where the painting had been. He looked around, but the space was so small that it didn't take long for him to come to the realization that someone had removed the piece, perhaps as a result of his incessant inquiries.

After an uneventful night, he made his way to the front office, where he was greeted by a gentleman who looked as if he had seen a thing or two in his life. Assuming by his appearance that he was the elusive manager, although he wore nothing that identified him as such, Hank dove right in and asked what happened to the painting that used to hang in the room.

The man was indeed the manager but feigned total ignorance. According to him, there were no paintings in any of the rooms and never had been. He went on to say that all of the wall furnishings came from the same supplier. He assured Hank that nothing in the catalog came close to an original work of art, and he would know since he was the one who placed the orders.

Having seen the painting in action, Hank hadn't believed a word of it. Still, instead of arguing, which he could tell by the man's condescending way of speaking would be pointless, he shrugged and said that he must have been thinking of someplace else. It was a lie, but he felt sure that it wasn't the only one being told that day.

Although his job would bring him to the area where the motel was situated numerous times in the years to come, Hank never again darkened its door. He knew, contrary to the line that he had been given, that something wasn't kosher about the place.

Be that as it may, he also knew that if he had confronted the manager about what he had seen, he would have ended up looking like a fool. He had lived long enough to know that, without tangible proof, no one would have believed him, and he couldn't blame them. He wouldn't have put stock in the story himself had he not seen what the painting was capable of with his own eyes.

*Name has been altered for reasons of privacy.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.