acrylic on canvas, 60 x 40cm
I started sketching Janet several months ago, me wanting to improve my life drawing skills and she not being so well, enjoying the company and interested in the exercise. We were only a few weeks in when she got her diagnosis. I found my drawing skills deteriorating – actually got worse the more I did. I think sitting and studying each other with that knowledge was just too difficult.
At one point I resorted to sketching her dogs. We did continue on – almost as a joint project, with me showing her compositional sketches, discussing what clothes and jewelry she might wear. I wanted to do the portrait with a more serious look – I guess that was coming through in my sketches.
At that point we turned to photographs and I got this great shot of her smiling. That was the look she wanted and she was correct. It highlighted her eyes, her smile. Two weeks before she passed away and when I was about to starting painting, she asked if I had enough material – she did not think she could manage that smile again. But she did manage that smile many more times, and I would say “Hey Janet, there is that smile!” – and she would smile again.