Well, the clarification I received from Rinpoche was that yes, you are to see the picture in clear detail and color.
BUT, I'm jumping ahead with high expectations for that to happen quickly. Those expectations led to a great deal of frustration and dread in my meditation practice over the last month.
My understanding of his suggestions is really focus on calming breaths, look at the picture for VERY short periods of time (1-2min), take a break while sitting (think of BUddha qualities, do mantra/prayer, calming breaths, etc), and revisit for a very short time. He gave an example of a mother who is always thinking about and seeing what their children may be doing, even though she cannot see them with her eyes at the moment. Or, imaging an experience you have had...the more you think about it, the more you can really see it in your mind. For now, that is the goal. Not necessarily seeing the image in detail, rather seeing/knowing it in my mind. I should practice other type of visualizations with my mind, like I mentioned above. If necessary, practice with a more simple object while sitting. Buddha was still highly recommended to continue working with.
I also think I need to form a better connection with the picture. He pointed out one may require very strong faith and practice to see a picture or visualize in great detail. Mindfulness is not new to me, but meditation with a strong base in faith along this path is still in it's beginning phases. Patience, grasshopper. It takes time and a lot of practice, I guess.
It was also suggested when I get frustrated, to move along to something else - prostration, mantra, readings, etc. Anything to strengthen my faith. In turn that should help with meditation. Oh yes, and a common theme each time we meet...make sure to be grateful to myself for putting forth the effort. Be grateful for this fortunate situation where I can at least try. Notice the positive changes in my body, speech, mind outside meditation. If I notice changes, and especially when others remark on changes they see in me...then my practice is working.
It's funny, one of my main questions was what I should do while he is in India for 3-4 months and I get stuck or frustrated. I was just about to ask at the end of our meeting when he gave the above suggestion about focusing on the positive. I like when those questions get answered without having to ask! The answer is so obvious...why didn't I think of that?!
So, onward I go. Baby steps, patience, effort, and gratitude.