Staggeringly talented Vikki North of California’s The Red Chair Gallery has done a conceptual portrait of our heroine Pip Holmes and allowed me to publish it here so that we can all share …
What do you reckon?
The character Pip is a Sydney journalist, a pocket dynamo who faces all sorts of dangers to track down her father who could have been a member of a pack of rapists. We're now up to episode twelve of her story. To my mind she has Pip down to the finest detail.
Vikki posted her portrait on her blog and waited for me to make my usual visit there, so that I’d get a surprise.
Wow! Was I ever thrilled.
To come face to face with someone you’ve been gradually building in your mind for eight years is an amazing experience.
And to agree with someone on the other side of the world about just how your creation would look is truly something else. As I said to Vikki ‘we’ve been a good team’.
Vikki has been following Pip’s adventure since episode one and I’ve loved her comments. She knows our young journalist inside out – and that’s informed her portrait.
(I wish more of my readers would be less shy and tell me what they think of the story. No need for flash words and phrases. Just fair dinkum feelings. And if you pick up any mistakes that would be particularly great.)
Vikki said this week ‘Pip is like a contradiction to her appearance. She’s pixy in size but huge in personality.
'Everyone always thinks that’s revealed in the eyes. I think it’s actually in our jaw line, how we hold our head and simply pose our mouth.’
She sure captured that in the picture.
The picture has stirred up quite a hornets’ nest on Vikki’s blog. Steve Emery an artist of North Carolina wrote a comment to Vikki about her Pip – and he hadn’t even read the story:
‘Wow - this is strong stuff, especially from your head! The eyes are gripping, and beautiful. I DO get a self assured, confident, no-time-for-appearances feeling from this face - but it's also a very sexy face, a face with beautiful bones beneath it. I immediately felt I would be at ease AND intimidated by her, both at once. And I assumed it had to be a real person to get this much complexity into the portrait.’
How about that as a confirmation of Vikki’s skill?
When I stumbled over the portrait a day after it was posted (and Vikki was sitting on pins waiting for me to see it) I wrote:
‘That's Pip! You have filled in our blank space - her visual appearance.I'm quite teary that you have been caught up enough in my story to do this. I looked long and hard at your portrait. I felt her. Then I knew. Pip has come out of the shadows to find her light.
'Those eyes are so right. She does have a secret doesn't she? Those eyes tell us so ...A sense of humour and humanity are also lurking there. Her hair is perfect - no curlers for sure. THE NOSE.Determined independent mouth. Sexy. High intelligent forehead.
'She was a shock to begin but now I know her so well after just ten minutes. (And of course the eight years I've taken to write her into existence! And your profound skill and insight.)’
Now - Pip hates her nose and wonders if it's a leftover from her unknown father. Pip's mother called it 'aristocratic'. Both Vikki and I had slight reservations about the original size (above), and Vikki offered to change it slightly to the version at the top of the post. Perfect.
I had written: 'Yes, I do think the nose MAY be a tiny bit too large. You know us women - we're often more dissatisfied with features of our appearance than we should be! However, I think you know Pip every bit as much as I do - and I have NO desire to mess with your skill. So it's entirely up to you whether a teensy bit of shadow goes or not.'
BUT WAIT! There’s more to this story …
This is a picture of me when I was 21. And (below) my blogging profile pic at 72 years.
Compare these with Vikki's Pip (below). Any comments?
Next day I noted what I thought to be certain similarities in these pix and asked Vikki if she had somehow taken in the profile pic on my blog at all - even perhaps unconsciously, and sent her a large copy and one of me at 21 years.
Vikki was stunned. My profile pic on the blog was very small and she certainly hadn't examined it.
'It's eerie! You are Pip!!! I'm stunned. Except - sorry- you don't have the 'aristocratic snozola.' You 'unfortunately' have a perfect little girl nose - or it would be an exact match. Wow! I can see why the image so affected you.'
It’s well know that many authors put a lot of themselves in their characters, and I’m the first to admit that there is some Pip in me – we’re both journalists for instance.
But I feel Pip would always be a bit wilder and gamer than I have been throughout my life. And that's fine. She needs to be!
My younger picture shows a similarity in bone structure (thanks to Steve for the unintended flattery), and the shape of the eyes in the older pic have ‘the same little cat like turn’ as Vikki puts it.
I do think I have more symmetrical eyes in reality and that the shape in the profile pic is accentuated by the weight of my hand under my left eye. But ...
Then there’s the hair line …
What a wonderful all round story this is. Vikki’s generosity has given me many kicks and I now ask that my bloggy mates have fun with this too. Let’s know what you think in a comment.
I'm past my 70th birthday and undaunted.
So far I can look back on probably a dozen different phases in my life, all producing deeply felt experience:
- A barefoot carefree childhood in an Australian seaside town
- Work as a young journalist in the days of hot metal and male chauvinism
- Dipping my toe into real life in Sydney the big city
- Marriage and precious motherhood
- A second career in corporate public relations management
- Another marriage and disillusion
- Battles for financial justice in the law courts
- Re-jigging a career
- At 60 my first university degree (Creative Writing and Australian History majors)
- Fighting sometimes lost causes
- Sneaky aches and pains of the approach of age
- Living on a pension.
All fodder for writing and a valuable background for the development of what could become one day an incisive point of view.
My blogs may become a way of answering the question: 'What's next?'