SEATTLE — He paints faces. And the faces paint stories.

"We all share a common trait, a common bond between all of us," artist Miha Sarani says. "I think everybody is sharing something whether they want to or not."

Sarani brings something extra to the ordinary.

"I'm always interested in seeing how I can combine an abstract element into the portraiture," he explains.

At least two of his secret ingredients can be found right in your kitchen.

The Slovenian-American business student-turned-artist found his groove in the ebb and flow of abstract painting. But then he saw something in the eyes of people all around him. Stories yearning to be told.

"I've always liked to watch," Sarani says. "I've always been interested with observing and recording what I see. And then, interpreting sometimes, or reinterpreting what I saw."

One happy accident led to a breakthrough after the artist made a sketch that left him less than satisfied.

"I happened to be drinking coffee, so I had my brush next to it, and I thought I'm not gonna save this drawing. I might as well just kind of play with it. I put some coffee on it and the next thing I know it's just, okay, this is going somewhere," Sarani recalls. "I walked into the kitchen and there happened to be a glass of wine that we didn't finish the night before. And I thought, red wine, let's see what that does."

Now Miha is earning acclaim for the splashes of earthy coffee and jubilant red wine that adorn his work.

"And they smell good," he says. "All the drawings always have this nice aroma to them."

One of his latest series features the faces of some of his musical heroes, including the artist formerly known as Terrence Trent D'Arby and the legendary Iggy Pop.

"I start with a very precise and calculated idea, and a sketch," Sarani says.

The celebrity images were painted atop the rejection letters of those who passed up the offer to pose for portraits.

Sarani says, "You never know what chance is gonna provide."

Miha Sarani will keep looking for new subjects that catch his inquisitive eye and looking for new stories to tell.

"There's something innately wonderful about what humans can do."

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