Study for a Portrait

Study For a Portrait – Watercolor – 8.5 x 11 inches.

A while ago I posted a drawing of two musicians — a base player and a drummer — and I apologized that the image was a sketch, only a “rehearsal,” and not a finished product. To my surprise, the unfinished quality of the drawing didn’t bother anyone. In fact, a former dancer said that she loved rehearsals in general and the informality of my sketch in particular.

So here’s another sketch, a rehearsal for a portrait that I recently finished. Perhaps I’ll post that painting too, someday.

The room is on the top floor of the last house on a dead end road in Lugano, Switzerland. It’s a hot afternoon in July and the windows are open to catch a breath, any breath, of air. My brother Tim writes at the dining room table. Jayne, his wife, sits on a windowsill. Their son Jake plays the guitar. (Stella, a small schnauzer, dozes under a chair nearby, but I forgot to include her.)

Aside from the presence of my family, what attracted my imagination to this scene was the summer light and shadows. Oaks and walnut trees surround the house. The green hillside behind Jayne is a vineyard. There’s a lawn below us and an orchard of apple trees. A pergola and a picnic table await for us to arrive soon with a plate of olives and Jayne’s foccacia, and a bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

Apart from the radiators on the walls, there’s nothing to suggest November winds and leafless trees and snows that will soon blanket the vineyard. Nor is there any hint that one of the people in the drawing will see only a few more summers.

But that’s another story, and another painting: the portrait that this sketch inspired, also carrying its own weight of memory.

One thought to “Study for a Portrait”

  1. Splash, splash and more splash. Summer in splashes of color: from left to right, splash of terra cotta, splash of yellow, splash or red, splash of blue, then splash, splash, splash: yellow, white and, of course, green. The flashes of color, however, are held together inside the attenuated blues. It’s brilliant, Michael, that you draw our attention to November, latent in the several radiators, one just peeking over the table as a reminder of what’s to come.

    If this be a rehearsal, one will welcome the performance, but, shoot, the rehearsal is beautiful and complete as is.

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