The invite was for lunch, and we gladly accepted. I knew she did a proper Sunday lunch regularly for her extended family, and was greatly touched that she wanted to include me and my man in that gathering.
We arrived early. Well, 42 hours early to be exact, but that’s another story! And during that time I had been able to show her the painting I’d done of her. She had stood and looked at it, and liked it, and said a few words of praise about it, then fell silent. After the viewing, I wrapped it up again and put it out of the way in another room and that was all was said about it that day.
I looked across at her, understanding her request in an instant but checking that we were in tune.
“Yes” she nodded, certain in her request.
I turned the picture around for them to see…
And they all looked at it, and without a doubt they knew who was in the picture. They knew without me explaining beforehand, who it was. Her mother was the first to speak – and said how much it reminded her of herself as a younger woman, and that it had made her feel quite emotional to see it. Her sister praised it, and said that she loved it. Her brother in law declared that he liked it. And I was so touched, that it worked so well as a portrait of her.
Then her kids walked in. They hadn’t seen it before, and knew nothing of it even existing, let alone who it was. But they knew, instantly “It’s you!” said the youngest. And the eldest looked at it and declared it to be “Well cool!” which I took to be praise indeed!!!!
Later, after we’d returned home, I texted her to thank her for her hospitality, and she texted back that she was pleased that I’d shown her family the painting, and how very impressed they were with it and that she’d felt moved by it despite seeing it before.
But, for probably the first time ever, I understood how she felt. And how other people feel when they see themselves in a painting by me. Because the day before, she had shown me her first story, and although it was a fictional piece, I could see echos of one of the women within the story being me. And I had been touched greatly by the fact that a character based on me was within her story, and that she had been inspired enough to write it in the first place. And had been kind enough to show it to me on this visit. Because the emotions she was going through, having seen herself within the picture I had painted of her, were the same ones as the ones I felt when I saw myself within the story she had written. I told her she’d got a big talent with her writing, and she said that was praise coming from someone with a talent as big as mine. I told her she’d got a big talent, she just didn’t realise how much.
But it’s ever the case that creativity feeds creativity, and what one can do with ease others look askance at because they know they can’t do it so well.