Florida schoolteacher Cindi Decker went to an art class with a pal and came home with a pretty impressive canvas painting of an egret.
Mrs Decker’s son, Matthew, snapped his mum holding her painting and uploaded it to social media site Reddit, saying, “My [mum] painted this and said no one would like it. It’s her second painting.”
The teacher’s art was a hit as more than 24,000 people “upvoted” it, which thrilled both the budding artist and her son.
What happened next, though, was even more brilliant.
The following day, an artist in Sweden, Kristoffer Zetterstrand, saw the post and had an idea; he decided to paint Mrs Decker holding her painting.
He too posted the pic to Reddit, saying: “I painted somebody’s mum.”
That kicked off an art chain that has sept the internet.
A journalism student in Canada, Leila Amer, joined the party, painting a picture of Mr Zetterstrand holding his painting of Mrs Decker with her painting (still with us?). Again, up it went on Reddit. “Took a while and not perfect,” she wrote. “But I painted the guy who painted the other guy’s mum.”
Enter artist Traci Sethre who added her painting to the colorful mix, followed by Travis Simpson who reportedly stayed up all night to paint his contribution, then posted a photo, writing on Reddit, “When it sinks in that I stayed up most of the night to paint a meme for internet points …”
Speaking to the Washington Post, Mr. Zetterstand, who started the whole chain, called it “hilarious and weird” adding he’s received thousands of messages from people all over the globe and estimates that millions of people have seen his painting.
“Many have contacted me and told me that it made them genuinely happy,” he told the Washington Post. “It’s touching, really.”
For her part, Mrs Decker was blown away by the response and joined Reddit under the name “imthemom who paints”, to thank her new fans.
“I was in fear I was going to read a lot of hateful comments,” she wrote. “You all have proven me so wrong. I’m assuming most of you could be my kids, and y’all get a bad rap in this world. You all are compassionate, caring, and a ton of fun! Thanks for uplifting me! You all have inspired me instead.”