Sitting (continued)

The finished portrait

After the drawing, Angus began a portrait in oils, which took several sittings. Again, I read my way through them – staying in the east with Pasternak and Herbert (Z), and going west with The New American Poetry 1945-1960, especially enjoying Gregory Corso’s ‘Marriage’. Above is the finished portrait, before the paint had even dried. Angus had been wondering about a title, and I wrote to him, ‘Lorna says it captures a lot of me and “it’s not going to be called Mr Fun” – ?! It was an interesting process for me too – to take that time for reading, the pleasure of reading aloud, and to observe your process, the struggle with the material, how that (relatively small) surface gradually became completed.’

Angus replied, ‘Reading Aloud is a very good title… that’s the point, and the thrill of it for me. It starts and anchors itself in the fact of your reading, and as such is a likeness of you and a kind of sketch; but it becomes an image when I began to be able to see that we were both involved (this was a shock, and perhaps the answer to a compositional dilemma). What interested me was to be able to see the exchange between us, the time it took and the process by which it was made… the daydreaming, the distraction, the concentration, the moments of frustration, the memorable line… all the points on the elastic scale of reading and listening…

‘So… whatever Lorna says, it’s the image of a special pleasure, and a celebration of it… And it’s good it’s two men I think. It’s not a parent and child (though it could be) and its not a younger person and an older person: just two men and a common ground we found to share. To me, that is something unusual and beautiful. Interesting too that it was the big expansive world of Milosz that offered the most space to stroll around.

‘I like it that you the sitter do all this active documentation and that there is the flavour of collaboration to it all. I hope other people can see that too…’

Here are some details from the picture.

Detail 1

Detail 2

Detail 3

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