chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things


1954 DAK portraitShe was not someone I knew — her hair red, her lips redder, her earrings stilled from some distant flamenco rhythm. She was a model, captured by my mother in a single long sitting during an art class.

The portrait was small, and stood among five or six dozen paintings — some framed, some not — in the tall cupboard above the closet in her studio. The closet and its high shelf were off limits to me, but now and then Dorothy would recruit me to assist as she stood on the step-stool and handed down paintings, each one transferred to my hands with cautions about where I put my fingers and where and how I propped the painting against the wall in the hallway just outside her studio.

This ritual had some purpose, now lost to me. Perhaps Dorothy was looking for a canvas she could recycle, an image she recalled, an application of color or texture she wanted to revisit. The woman in the small oil painting was like a cousin I saw only occasionally, her story unknown, her beauty unchanging.

6 responses to “portrait

  1. kristin September 18, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Did your mother ever paint you?

  2. Sheila Sondik September 18, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    I find your feeling, in this childhood memory, of being excluded from the deeper meaning of your mother’s actions very moving. The painting of the anonymous model becomes a holder of that mystery. Does that painting still exist?

  3. jik September 18, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Thanks, Sheila. It may exist somewhere, but not anywhere I can identify. When my mom moved out of the house, friends and family were invited to relieve me of an overwhelming quantity of art. It’s possible it found a happy home, but I didn’t keep track of what was going where…

  4. lucidwritingandvisuals September 19, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Lovely writing and your mother was quite talented also!

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