Beverly, oil on canvas
Beverly would walk into a room, and turn the heads of both men and women. She had an arresting grace, a grace which is attributed not only to looks, but to a particular manner, a way of carrying oneself. She often wore fur, smoked on break, loved wine, drank too much coffee. She was so elegant, her very movements looked choreographed.
She grew up in a working class, industrial area of London, not to say that she had a rough neighborhood or upbringing. She just knew a more authentic side of that polished, touristic city. She went on to study classical ballet for several years in France, and then performed across Europe. Afterwards, she went back to London to work (at what job I am unsure) in the House of Lords. Her last job in London was working as an office manager for a finance company.
I don’t know whether she was fleeing London, or going to Florence. At any rate, she fit perfectly in to Florence, and soon called it home.
For a long time I considered this portrait a bit of a failure, because it seemed too intense. In my opinion, the portrait was so riveting that it lacked, umm, wall appeal? I felt almost apologetic for this, and so I leaned the painting up against the wall of my studio in New York.
Yesterday, I sorted through the dusty racks of forgotten paintings in my studio. I stumbled across Beverly, and had a complete change in my opinion. I think too much about “hangability” or “wall appeal.” There is a current trend among some modern painters to depict diaphonously dressed delilahs in dreamy dalliance, leaning languidly against cashmere cushions. Truthfully, I admire some of these works, and so I struggle with a pervading sense of failure that I can’t produce work of that type. But, it’s not meant to be. This is Beverly, with the industrial streets of London and French Ballet chamber halls written on her face.