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July 2012

- Maria Rosa Duarte -


 

My oldest friend is called Maria Rosa Duarte.We have known each other for almost 30 years. My children call her ‘great granny’. When I painted this picture in 2001, she was already 86 years old and knew me well enough to know what a passion I have for painting. Maria Rosa was the first person to sit for me.

For a long time I was afraid of painting portraits – and to this day I have not quite shaken it off. For one thing, I need lots of time for it and I am always afraid my opposite will lose their patience. Another thing is that every pause could ruin my concentration and enthusiasm. And finally it is because I never really know if I will manage to create a picture that the person portrayed would also like.

The conditions were perfect when I painted Maria Rosa. She knew that, if possible, I would need a whole day for the picture and was fine with that. “It doesn’t matter how we spend time together”, she said cheerfully. As she only expected a visit from her children in the evening, the probability of being interrupted was also very low. And she was not bothered how the picture would turn out at the beginning. “The main thing is that you enjoy painting it”. Maria Rosa encouraged me. And so our adventure began in her living room. She sat on the sofa and I sat in front of her on a low chair. It was summer, the tarmac steamed outside, yet the room was cool. The shutters were half down in the bright light, dampened by the curtains, and there stood the sofa. When we were quiet, we could only hear the ticking of the clock, as if on that afternoon the whole village was having a siesta.

So it was: while we looked at each other we told each other stories, laughed at each other’s jokes and sometimes became lost in silent thought. Maria Rosa nodded now and again. Then I painted her crocheted blanket. We had breaks for something to eat, but not too many and not for too long. After six hours the picture was finished. We were both really happy about that.

I am just a little bit dissatisfied with the eyes; they are a little too close together. And Maria Rosa? She thinks her picture is very good. “It’s just the legs“, she says, “They should be closer together!”

 

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