About 14 years ago, back when I first started doing figure compositions out of my head, I had the idea of doing a hair cut painting. I worked on the idea for a long time: did a nice wash study and two or three versions in oil about 16" x 18". Sold the last of them a few years ago. A few years later I went back to the subject and did a large version, 32" x 36" or thereabouts, and called it "Metamorphosis" - that one I still have. Apparently not a whole lot of people want a 32" x 36" painting in the house of someone having their hair cut.
"Metamorphosis" is on very heavy linen and when I did it I was still painting quite thinly. Tom keeps telling me I could fix it up easily now that I paint with so much more authority and paint. A few months ago I took off the varnish and tried to fix it up. Um...impossible. The situation is similar to the problem with the French Fry Eaters: the gap between the artist I was then and the artist I am now is just too big. To make it what I want it to be I would have to take it completely apart and put it back together again, like a car engine. Forget it; it would be easier to just do a new one. I wiped out, put the varnish back on and pushed the whole project to the back of my mind.
Then, yesterday, I got a hair cut. The woman who has been cutting my hair for the past fourteen years moved away recently; I've been forced to find someone new. When I arrived at the salon to meet my new hairdresser you could have knocked me over with a feather - Hell, you could have knocked me over with half a feather: she was the spitting image of the hairdresser in "Metamorphosis" whom I had made up out of my head- with the exception that she looked about fourteen years older. Same features, limbs and figure, even had her hair in the same style and was wearing almost the same outfit though the color was different. "Hi" I said, stunned, "I feel like we've met before". As she cut my hair I drank in everything about her: the way she danced around my head as though conjuring a shape out of clay; the way she held herself as loftily as a statue; her strong arms and delicate, accurate, hands. I watched in the mirror as, under her hands, my old silhouette melted away and the new me emerged.
When I got home I got out my sketch book and made a few scribbles from memory: I have some new ideas for the composition and I definitely need to change the colors.