Catherine Goodman (10)

Catherine has promised to complete my portrait over the course of the bank holiday weekend.   I like being back in the studio and realise that I’ll miss the sittings when they’re finished.   At half time when I’m allowed a cup of coffee and a stretch, I realised that she has a spectacular array of tubes of paint.   I asked how much a tube costs.    She picked up a tube of red paint which cost £120.   She let me photograph the tools of the trade.   First, the tube of red paint:

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More tubes:

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Then the palette from which she’s working:

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Lastly, the trunk of turps:

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Catherine Goodman (9)

I’ve sneaked an extra hour at lunchtime to attend another sitting as time is running out.   Catherine said I look completely different, probably because I am in work mode, half way through a difficult day.   Hannah Rothschild, who is a fellow sitter, part of the invisible community which flits in and out of Rossetti Studios, aware of one another but never meeting, has asked me why I say ‘I am sitting to Catherine Goodman’ not ‘I am sitting for Catherine Goodman’.   The former feels correct.   I am sitting to her, as an honour, not performing a service for her, as a task.

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Catherine Goodman (8)

I’ve quite missed my sittings with Catherine.   It’s an opportunity for two hours of reverie and gossip.   This time I actually got an incredibly brief glimpse of my portrait, but at the precise moment when I realised who it was, she too realised that she had left it on the easel and whisked it away.   So I only have a flash of it like a mirage.   I now feel that if I were ever to see it properly, it would disappear before my eyes.   Time is running out before her exhibition in June and I don’t like to ask if I will be included.   Afterwards, I retreat for a macaroon and Collect.

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Catherine Goodman (7)

Readers of my blog will be relieved that this post is not about another sitting in which I am unable to document any progress on my portrait (sittings have lapsed over the last fortnight while I have been on holiday), but instead about Catherine’s exhibition Drawings from Veronese which is being held a long way upstairs at Colnaghi’s in Bond Street.   When she is not doing portraits for her exhibition and directing the programme of the Prince’s Drawing School, she haunts the National Gallery and other public collections.   Drawings from Veronese is not just timely because of the National Gallery’s exhibition, but the result of several years of close observation and visual record of Veronese’s paintings.   It’s also a test of one’s knowledge of the paintings.   Spot the dog:

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Catherine Goodman (6)

My early morning walk to Flood Street made beautiful by the early morning sun.   Peter Jones looking like a transatlantic liner:

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The Royal Hospital looking, as indeed it was designed to be, like a French chateau:

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Catherine Goodman (5)

Another day, another sitting.   I quite like the way the sessions drift between music, observation, occasional stretching and a lot of high class gossip.   Yesterday I was given an enormous bowl of coffee and then made to sit dead still for two hours which is a form of Japanese torture.   For some reason, we discussed my very brief and disastrously unsuccessful career as the opening bat for my prep school 1st. XI.   I suppose it is inevitable that being painted engenders a degree of self reflection.   Today was quieter and more reflective.   We tried to remember the brilliance of Humphrey Ocean’s speech last night.   As I sat, bits of it came back to me:  the fact that he regarded himself, like Constable, as a flatearther and that Constable retained a strong affinity for the ground.  He’s the only person I know who can speak intuitively entirely from the left side of the brain.

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Catherine Goodman (4)

As Catherine’s exhibition at the NPG looms, my sittings have moved to early in the morning, although not quite as early as I used to sit for Leonard McComb.   So, I find myself walking through Chelsea past Bram Stoker’s house in St. Leonard’s Terrace.   I remember a cousin of mine saying that when they set up house in Chelsea in the early 1950s it was regarded as bohemian and scandalised her relations who expected them to live in Mayfair.   Hard to imagine now as I pass the merchant bankers on their way to work.   John Morton Morris is very pleased because my portrait is smaller than Sally Clarke’s.   I don’t know how he knows because I haven’t seen either.

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