Saturday, February 9, 2008

Alice Neel and Me

I am often told that my work resembles Alice Neel's. I remember first hearing this back in 1986 in a drawing class at the University of Southern Maine. I had finished a series of self-portraits, and during the crit one of my fellow students remarked, "Just like Alice Neel!" I'd never heard of her. The next winter I took a day trip to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and saw Neel's work for the first time. This portrait, Linda Nochlin and Daisy, was on exhibit. When I walked around a corner and saw it, I stopped in my tracks: it was as if I'd found long lost kin. The next day I had my two young daughters sit on the couch and pose for me. They wanted to wear their best dresses. I painted this portrait of them in about an hour. It just flowed out of me. I sold this drawing to Robert Johnson, the curator of the Achenbach Prints and Drawings Collection, California Palace of the Legion of Honor. He purchased one of my self-portraits for the collection, but he bought this drawing for himself. I had always regretted selling it, but after my barn and studio burned down, I was grateful that it had gone out into the world and was safe! This portrait means alot to me for many reasons, the major one being that it documents my daughters Kaitlyn and Lisbeth before Lisbeth became ill. But that is another story for a future post.

Kaitlyn and Lisbeth, 1987
pastel, oil and charcoal on paper, 22" x 30"
collection of Robert Johnson, San Francisco, CA
Linda Nochlin and Daisy, 1973, by Alice Neel
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

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