Several months ago …
Last night I went to bed early after a long day of painting edits, only some of which were successful. While painting I had been streaming movies and TV episodes in the background. One scene in particular caught my eye. It was of a couple kissing, joining lips in classic Hollywood fashion. The scene was stuck in my head when I went to bed around 9 p.m. I woke up at 9:30 p.m., only a half hour later, with that image still in my mind, and I thought, “Why don’t I paint a kiss?”
Right then I messaged my favorite female muse, who lives in Hollywood, and asked her about the project. Then we discussed who would be the right guy for it. The face had to be stone-like in structure, a big nose (I like painting big noses), and masculine. I remembered a male model that posed for some of my other projects a few years ago, and he, I believed, lived in Hollywood. I messaged him about the project, and he told me that he was leaving Hollywood in the morning (today!) for good. He gave the actor’s dream everything he had, and he was also going to be a dad, and he and his mate were heading to a cabin in the woods in Michigan. I searched his FB page and saw pictures of a vibrant, beautiful woman. I asked: “Are you already packed? Would you, could you, pose with your mate tonight for the “Kiss” painting?” He said: “Yes!” My muse loved that I decided to do the project with them, but she also thought I was crazy for doing such a spontaneous thing.
I live in Idyllwild, which is 2 ½ hours from Los Angeles, beginning with a 20-mile curvy drive down from the 6,000 ft elevation. I messaged Frida’s favorite dog sitter and he said “Yes, bring her.” A quick Americano coffee, and I was out the door at 10 p.m. headed for Hollywood!
The drive was beautiful, no traffic, no breaking, it just flowed. I was listening to my favorite opera, Puccini’s Turandot, which finished when I arrived around 12:30 a.m. at the couple’s apartment, literally by the side of the famous Hollywood Freeway US-101. She is five months pregnant, with a beautiful glow about her. They posed for several hours and I used my phone for reference photos, and was awed that they shared their intimacy with me.
While driving back I wondered about the reasonableness of this journey. Then I thought that thousands of people travel 25 hours to some exotic location for a vacation, what is such a big deal about driving 6 hours, there and back, for art?
I also thought about my last painting–the portrait, Ralph (b. 1996 — d. 2016). Painting that portrait was emotionally challenging, and I cried at some point every day. How wonderful to do now a painting that is about a young couple in love awaiting their first child, both paintings an homage to our humanity.
The pain of not making it for an artist is more painful than “normal” people can understand. One ex-student of mine, a super-intense and talented artist, couldn’t live without his art, and took his life.
I arrived back home around 6:30 a.m. very contented.
Now, in the present the lovely child is a few months old and the painting is finished. For this new dad and mom, the artist journey continues. I hope this painting is worthy.