I spotted some artists in Central Park today and decided to get a portrait. I approached one friendly-faced man and asked if he’d paint me like one of his French girls.
I opted for an ink picture over the caricatures, and I managed to haggle him down from $40 to $20 without him putting up much of a fight. Then we got down to work.
He wasn’t a very talkative chap, but I did glean that his name was Artur, that he came to the U.S. from Russia 22 years ago and that he paints in the park all day, every day. He used dry oil paints for my portrait and a series of chunky brushes.
I resisted peeping at his work and instead enjoyed people-watching. I gave the occasional quizzical look to tourists, who assured me it was going okay with a thumbs up. And Artur was a lovely man – whenever I caught his eye, he gave me such a warm smile and I wondered how many faces he sees every day. And whether he now sees them almost mathematically – spotting the main shapes and painting without much thought.
After about 20 minutes, he was done. By this point, there was quite the swarm of admirers around him. And no wonder, because he made me look so cute. I’ve always thought I looked much better on paper.
(Now what do I do with it?)