Just a note about Newt.
In 1993 a fine portrait artist who hadn’t been starving since the age of 19, Alan, I’ll call him, came to Pittsburgh to photograph and draw me for the cover of a book, Taking Hold: My Journey into Blindness. He was lovely and funny and interesting, stayed for two hours max, and drove all the way,half-flying, back to New York City. My editor had told him to paint me “looking strong,” so we’d joked about me holding weights and sneering. About a year later I received that portrait in the mail, about 3 feet by 2 feet, as a gift from Alan. People always compliment it, hanging in our dining room. They say that I “look pensive and strong. My husband loves it and explains that I “look determined, as if I’m facing third down and 17 and I’m hell-bent to get the first down.”
It’s very uncommon to get a cover illustration or any illustration from an artist for free, and rightly so. I’ve bought several originals from my picture books and am very pleased.
When I called to thank Alan for his touching gift, he told me that I’d been “an easy client.” He’d just painted a portrait of newt. By now Newt had become Speaker of the House in the coup he’d orchestrated.
First,” Alan said, “he asked me to repaint it to get rid of his crows’ feet, and then he asked me to get rid of the double chin.”
Easy to be “easy” when you can’t see how someone paints you.