Sean, oil on linen, 18″ x 24″
About four years ago, I was over my best friend Dave’s home. His son Sean was sitting at the kitchen table, eating Milano cookies, drinking milk, and reading Calvin and Hobbes. He was laughing out loud, reading each page with pleasure. Sean was the picture of contentment. To look at him was to participate in his joy, in that wonderful season of life, just before that growth spurt of early adolescence.
I turned to Dave and said “I gotta paint Sean. In just a few months, he’s going to lose the boy. He’s going to have a growth spurt, and then, it’s all over- he’ll be jumping out his window at night, wrecking your car, and setting the town on fire. It’s all over. Quick, while he’s still human.” Dave understood fully well, and agreed that it was necessary to paint him soon.
Sean came to my studio, quiet and awkward. He sat down with his Calvin and Hobbes book, and he began to giggle. Giggles turned to laughter turned to guffaw. The only problem I had, in painting this piece, was that the model wouldn’t stop laughing. I spent about three hours on the first day. The next day he came to my studio, I spent another three hours or so. I had another few sessions to go, in order to finish his hands, polish his facial features.
Then, as is often the case on the south shore of Long Island, Sean was raptured off to Fire Island, all before I had a chance to finish his painting. His family has a home in Fair Harbor, and the summer swallowed Sean into the sand dunes and salt spray of the Atlantic and Great South Bay. He came back to the mainland of Long Island three months later, about three to four inches taller. His face was longer, his voice was cracking, he was less inclined to the unrestrained laughter of childhood. I wanted to tell him that pirate ships and planks were incomparably more enjoyable than New York State Tax Form IT-201, that the Lost Boys were much better company than church deacon boards, that Captain Hook was a much better nemesis than the political party he may grow to disagree with, that… although Wendy might be hot, he couldn’t go back to Neverland, should he continue along this spurious path.
Sean wouldn’t listen. He is now six feet tall, handsome, built, with a deep voice. Fortunately, he has retained all of the kindness and warmth of his youth. But though he is now a man, here is my painting from four years ago. The soft, half smile of a boy, the joy of youth, stilled forever, a moment frozen in time for his father to hold on to, forever.
This following is a beautiful tune, called “Mama,” and is composed by Edgar Meyer, and performed by Yo- Yo ma. In this tune, the bass is the voice of the boy, speaking to his mother.