Painted in oil on linen panel, this portrait study measures 5.25 x 7". The final 36 x 48" portrait is currently on my easel. My portrait sitter is an elegant lady who is accompanied by her loyal terrier companion. Their natural pose fell in a striking composition. Exceptionally stylish, she sat for me at over 90 years of age. Known to scour clothing boutiques for vintage treasures, her style sense makes for a fantastic painting exercise in textures on the larger canvas. Her beaded necklace strands, chiffon scarf and metallic head wrap offset her wool suit and dog's soft coat. However, at the scale of this preliminary portrait study, such details must be reserved as flat shapes to emphasize the greater composition as a whole.
I'd often visit extended family at what had first been my great-grandparents' home. Because the home's vintage 1930-1960's décor remained largely unchanged, I experienced the house as a thrilling time machine. I cherished the period upholstery, furnishings and natural light. This vintage charm inspires and informs my paintings, many of which are set in the rooms of this house using live models. These photos detail the actual room interior from my painting, My Aunt's Blue Couch. I suspect that some of my relatives view these pieces as old and tired, but to me they are magical.
Although I painted his portrait over a decade ago, I'm most often asked about my sittings with Jay Marsden, 4th-generation conductor on the Boston railroad. Commuters relied on his warmth and quick wit to brighten their trek in and out of city. He'd often ask passengers to choose an exotic dream location he'd then announce as the train's "final stop." At Christmastime, he was known to dress as Santa Claus and hand out candy canes en route!
At the time of Jay's retirement in 2005 after 36 years of service, I was fortunate to paint his portrait and learn more about his amazing legacy. It was an honor to hold the heirloom railroad watches and keys that had belonged to his father and grandfather. Just before Jay's brother and fellow conductor Zeke passed away in 1991, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) dedicated Engine #1921 in Zeke's honor. The engine made a fitting background for Jay's portrait.
Jay is such an asset to the city of Boston, The Boston Globe ran a feature on his career to mark his retirement. I'm quite pleased to have had my portrait of him accompany that article, and am proud to consider Jay a friend. Those who feel his absence on the train should know that while Jay misses them, too, he is thoroughly enjoying his retirement!