This is Michele, my one-time copy editor and a good friend. It’s the second portrait I painted of her.
The first was painated shortly after her successful bout with breast cancer. She commissioned a painting of herself sitting on a couch in front of the window of her sunny apartment on Prince Street in Soho. It was a portrait of a peaceful, beaming survivor. The painting above was done a few years later. I’d asked her if she wouldn’t mind posing again—I was in a portrait phase, painting any friend who agreed to sit still (I would spread out canvas tarps in people’s living rooms on which I knelt and painted them, fast, on 9” x 12” canvases). She agreed to sit, but only if I let her wear her Halloween costume. My instinct, of course, was to withdraw my request until she told me she had a dominatrix costume with a red wig. I suddenly became very interested in painting her again. For one thing, she was a pretty tough copy editor, and the costume seemed appropriate–it was kind of a fun idea, given the copy editor’s role at a weekly magazine. When she mentioned that a riding crop would be involved, I really had no choice.
I see a lot less of Michele these days—she moved to Brooklyn and I work in New Jersey now. About a year ago, we went to the theater to see a way-off-Broadway production of Einstein’s Gift, a play more about Fritz Haber. Then she took me to dinner.
Michele, who has long brown hair, is a great model, an incisive editor, a beautiful woman, and a wonderful friend. We get each other’s jokes and finish each other’s sentences. She corrects my sentences. I found this picture in the basement last night in a pile of the 9 x 12 portraits. I also found my living room tarp–I may soon be back on the lookout for people who can sit still.
Now—speaking of things editorial, I am finishing a cover story under pulverizing deadline pressure. Above is a portrait of me—I found this drawing of a cassowaryesque journalist via a Google search for journalist images. Most of the others that came up were a lot uglier. Where I’m working now, by the way, there are four people who do the job Michele did single-handedly. Yep. She’s that kind of tough.
[Editor’s note: No, I don’t smoke like the cassowary scribe (I know, it’s a vulture, but close enough). And despite various items you’ve seen in my studio photographs, I do not have a severed human hand on my desk at work. Where, oh where did this cartoon come from?]