Saturday, December 24, 2011

Portrait of Gaye and Christmas Eve

I spent most of the day finishing this portrait that I started a few days ago. It's from a picture I took of an old acquaintance, or possibly I should call her a friend. She shows up in my life off and on because of Diana, who somehow came to know her after I did. She comes to Eastport with Diana sometimes and stays a few days. I came to know her when I was in school studying art is the 90's. She was a big presence in the Art Department, partly because she's black, which is a rarity in Maine, and partly because of the fact that she always had children hanging off her. She had a big family with several daughters who had babies. These daughters were going to school, too, and brought their babies with them. Gaye often had one in tow while one daughter or another was in class. They had great names like Divante and Nahisi, with black curly hair and big smiles. They were the best natured babies I have ever seen, as well as the the most adorable. Everyone loved them and helped take care of them. It was far from unusual to find one in a baby seat on the printing press or tucked under somebody's chair in art history class. During the student critiques of our work, one or two of them would be playing quietly nearby.

Anyway, when she was here last I was struck by the way she looked with the sun shining in the window on her face. I took pictures of her so that I could paint her, and this is the first one. It's a pastel, which I haven't done in awhile. I thought it would be fun to get the contrast of light and dark using pastels, and it was. The portrait looks very little like Gaye, who is probably in her late 60's. This person looks quite young. I didn't want to labor over getting a likeness. This is all about the light. In a different medium that is more easily manipulated I may try to make it look more like she actually looks, which is really quite stunning.

This is Christmas Eve. It's the first time in years that Sydney didn't have her usual dinner party, which left a lot of us twiddling our thumbs. David, Thom, and I had breakfast this morning together with Meg. who hosted the occasion even though it was at their house. Meg doesn't have people to her house because she doesn't want anybody to see what a mess it is. It was very enjoyable, as is any occasion when Meg is there. She is in her eighties and quite frail, but is wonderful company. She has had a very interesting life, and actually still does. She will be off to Los Angeles for a few months in a couple of weeks. Like Gaye, and actually so many people in my life, she is an unusual character. Our breakfast lasted until after noon, a fitting Christmas party. I haven't decorated at all, but I spent time making gifts for David and Thom. Mike will be at Christmas dinner at their house tomorrow......a kind of last hurrah since he is moving back to Florida after only a couple of months here. This place at the end of the earth isn't everyone's cup of tea, and he just doesn't like it. I am sad that it didn't work out because we both have been planning and anticipating his retirement here for years. Despite the expense, which has been considerable, he is wise to realize that he's made a mistake though, and take steps to rectify it. It's a disappointment to us both, but it's the right thing for him to do. This will be our only Christmas together for awhile.
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