Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Meet Pip in the Flesh

Portrait of Pip - Vikki North of The Red Chair Gallery

Meet Pip in the flesh.

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.)’

Detail original Portrait of Pip - Vikki North

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?

Portrait of Pip by Vikki North

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.

And don’t forget to visit Vikki at The Red Chair Gallery. I really am so greatful for her generosity.

She's a cool dude and a great artist. Here's her impressive profile.

Please tell me in a comment what you think about Pip's pic - is she what you'd imagined? Does her personality 'fit'?

Next episode of ‘Paternity’ coming very soon.

You can beginning at the beginning of the story here. Then click 'Earlier Posts' at the bottom of the episode to continue your story.

Cheers from


  1. Oh June. I'm overwhelmed. Thank you so much. "I feel special...almost as special as Pip". Nope- I've gone to far! No one is as special as Pip. This is her day for sure.

    I now know I have to watch what I 'email'. It can end up on your blog. I'll remember that. You're to funny.

    Well I'll tell you this. My readers sure loved Pip and you. And I will tell you something else:
    I am so very honored June Saville. Thank you.

  2. My Oh My as my old Mum would have said.
    VIKKI I put Pip on 70 Plus and Still Kicking as well - she deserves it!

  3. I meant of course that Pip a la YOU deserves it Vikki! We are a mutual admiration society it seems ...

  4. WOW! What a great portrait! There is an inner strength (resolve and resilience) that emanates from that face (of Pip's). The artist is VERY talented. Indeed, I do see the similarity in both your image aged 21, and Pip. Perhaps, it is true that a writer gives a part of themselves (their personal stories) in their work!?! Having met the little lady (Pip) in the flesh, I’m inspired to read the book – and, I will make a start from the beginning. (Also, I'll critique/comment as I go along – as, I know how helpful it is for us writers (lol))!

  5. I'll look forward to the comments Cath. Thanks - and enjoy the story!

  6. This is absolutely wonderful June. I've always thought there was a bit of you in Pip and now we know :) Such a feel good post !
    Cheers, Cheryl

  7. wow, yes, there is a definate similarity between you and pip. some sort of a 6th sense from the artist about the author???

    Sure is intriguing isn't it?

    So you're still following the episodes? That's great. A feel good story probably makes a welcome break from Pip's quest.

  10. June, I saw the portrait on 70 Plus first before coming over here. My very first thought was that it was a picture of you but then immediately thought it must be Pip. How strange that I first thought it was you! There is a resemblence to you in that picture. I saw it almost instantly.
    This is just uncanny how she captured both of you in one picture.

  11. Amazing portrait here June. I must say that Vikki is an awesome artist. I have no idea whether it was intentional or not, but this portrait is in fact the faces of two women. One is hard and cold, and the other angelic and soft. Should you hold a paper to to cover one side, then the other, perhaps it will be easier to see. Absolutely brilliant! The eyes, the mouth, the shadowing; all subtle but very well done! And in closing June, I must say, you were gorgeous then, and you are still gorgeous today!:) Now,,,,,back to Pips,,,hehehehe

  12. It's wonderful June and Vikki is an extremely talented and insightful artist.

    I thought it was you too at first glance. Although, as you say, there are differences in the nose. Brilliant.

    It's wonderful seeing the characters come to life like this after all your hard work in writing. Let's hope this inspires you further!

    I have been so busy writing that I have been a little remiss in catching up on everyone's short stories and novels. I am going to try and do them at the one time.

    Anyway, very happy for you Pip, er I mean June.

    Take Care - it's so hot down south and I bet its very hot where you are too!!

  13. JUDY - it's a bit like looking at your grandchildren (although I don't have any). The thing is you can see bits of others in the one face. That's always fascinated me.
    Although I didn't set out to put any of me in Pip's character, I suppose it's almost inevitable.

  14. DJ - That's incisive of you - the bit about two faces - one on either side. You're right.

    Vikki - did you consciously set out to do that?
    (I'm assuming she'll probably peep again - if her head hasn't got too big to mix with the rest of us.)

    Whether the artist did this or not, I like to think that Pip is gradually changing as a result of her experiences. I hope that she ends up a less driven young lady, and will find some peace.

  15. DJ - I got caught up in the 'two faces' controversy and forget what you said about ME!
    Gorgeous?! I think I was reasonable when I was 21 - but who isn't? Gorgeous now? Perhaps (hopefully) not too bad inside? I do what I can ...
    I think I've fallen into all of the traps there is already, so I have no excuses. Thanks for the kind thoughts - cheeky Rogue.

  16. LILLY - the humidity has set in here. Some days one feels as though one is moving around in a personal bath tub - filled to the brim.

    My girl your blog is so popular I don't know how you have time to sleep because of answering comments - let alone reading novels et al.

    If you do have a spare minute look at the first few paragraphs of Episode One of 'Paternity' and if you find that absorbing and relaxing - press ahead. Otherwise, don't waste that precious energy.

    I do feel inspired, thanks to everyone's generous reactions.
    Pip .. er .. June

  17. What terrific synchronicity through this whole adventure with Pip's portrait. I'm inspired by Vikki's intuition and the way she listened to the idea to draw Pip. I was quite surprised and delighted to see how much Pip resembles you when you were her age (except for the "girlie nose"). I hope Vikki responds to that question about the two sides of the face. And I have to agree with some of the other commenters - you're still a beauty. There is so much life in your face and eyes; that hasn't changed since the earlier photo. I have to go back to the start of Paternity and see what it's all about.

  18. STEVE
    Synchronisity is the word. Although Vikki herself made the decision to draw Pip (unless you're speaking about something more subliminal).

    Vikki did address D.J. Rogue's observation about the 'two faces' issue in a comment on her blog and I don't think she'd mind me repeating her here:
    '... a brilliant observation. We are non symmetrical as human beings and the sum of our life is revealed in our faces. Pip couldn’t be any different. She goes between warm memories of her Mother to the intensity of her work and horrible beginnings.

    Many times, as artists, we address one facet or the other in a portrait. But in this case -I had one shot. I needed to deal with the personality as a whole. My thoughts ran from: “Do I give her a slight smile? Do I make her look beyond the viewer or directly at them? Does she look young yet experienced to the world’s woes at the same time? Most important, is this who June defined?”'

    Fair enough eh Steve? Vikki's generosity has given us all a lot of fun and has certainly been thought provoking.

    There is some of me in Pip (and vice versa) and that's inevitable - 'the sum of our life is revealed in our faces'.
    I've been toying with Pip on and off for eight years ... and we share journalism anyway.

    I enjoy a bit of flattery of course - thanks Steve. I think the spark is my curiosity and my efforts to assuage it.

    Welcome to 'Paternity' - If you enjoy the first episode, keep reading. Otherwise - save your energy and time ... I'm pleased to say that it seems many people are coming back and back, even if they don't comment.


Thanks for leaving a comment. Its good to know who is having a peek! I will certainly send a comment in reply.

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Also, you may like to have a look at my other blog 70 Plus and Still Kicking.

Cheers June