I believe my first sale was “Bryan’s Ph.D.” I made it in 1990 as one of several small paintings created to improve my #skills at rendering human #hands in #pastel. I had recently left the #Navy and was building a career as a #portrait artist. Bryan, my late husband, was often my model for these studies, not only because it was convenient, but because he had such beautiful hands.
In #1990 Bryan was working on his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Maryland. In this painting he is #drawing a diagram that illustrates a theoretical point about “international public goods,” the subject of his research. He was sitting in an old wooden rocking chair in our backyard in #Alexandria, VA. I still own the chair and the house. I photographed his hands close-up and then created the #painting. I don’t remember which of Bryan’s cameras I used, but it was one that took 35 mm film; perhaps his Nikon F-2. Somewhere I must still have the negative and the original reference #photo.
Not long ago the owner contacted me, explaining that she had received the painting as a gift from her now ex-husband. She was selling it because it evoked bitter memories of her divorce. Her phone call was prompted by uncertainty about the painting’s #value now. She had a likely buyer and needed to know what price to charge.
I was saddened because I have so many beautiful #memories of this particular painting and of an #idyllic time in my life with Bryan. He was on a leave of absence from the #Pentagon to work on his dissertation, while I was finished with active duty. At last I was a full time artist, busily working in the spare bedroom that we had turned into my first #studio.
My #conversation with the owner was a reminder that once paintings are let out into the world, they take on associations that have nothing to do with the personal circumstances surrounding their #creation. In short, what an artist creates solely out of #love, stands a good chance of not being loved or appreciated by others. This is one reason to only sell my work to people I select personally. I ended the telephone conversation hoping that “Bryan’s Ph.D.” fares better in its new #home.