Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Keith's Talent

The first time I realised that Keith had proper talent was when he made me a birthday card for my 18th. It was an ink and watercolour depiction of the front cover of a novel I would never write. The novel was called Irresistible. It was about an ugly man who one day wakes up and – against all odds – finds that he is utterly irresistible to all women. I did manage to write a couple of scenes and it was the most hideously embarrassing teenage wish fulfilment imaginable, thankfully long destroyed.

The cover on my card featured a brooding, saturnine version of me surrounded by what can only be described as a bevy of buxom beauties, all fawning all over me, groping me, licking me, breathing me in. It was magnificent. Scantily clad they were. All adoring, imploring and swooning. I actually pleasured myself once or twice looking at that card. (I've never admitted that before.) I was blown away by it and I showed my gratitude by a) never writing the novel, and b) spilling half a bottle of red wine all over the card. Klutz. I hated myself for some time for that.

After that card, however, Keith rather got off the horse. Aside from stoned doodles and the occasional caricature as a gift, he didn't really do anything much for years. Every now and then he would say, ‘I really need to start doing some art’, but then he’d get another job making a fake forest for an advert or decorating a drug den for a pop video and all of his creative juice seemed to get channelled into that.

Then earlier this year his hands began inexplicably to shake and he was diagnosed as having MS. Then they found a shadow in his brain which turned out to be an aneurysm.

It might seem a strange thing to say but I’m beginning to think that this was the best thing ever to happen to him.

In the last six months, his output has increased a hundredfold. A magazine has even paid for the privilege of publishing his work and he’s taken on a couple of private commissions. He’s even started turning down proper work to devote more time to his own stuff. (Take that, toads!)

This makes me really happy. Although I know that Keith is great at his job (I know because he’s always telling me), let’s face it, it’s still a job. Whereas his own artwork is so much more than that. It’s a calling.

All of which is by way of introduction to Keith’s latest piece of art, which I think is up there with his best. And I’m not just saying that because it features another flattering version of me.

It’s based on Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy by David Hockney.

Keith’s version is here: Keith and Stan and the Ghost of Pablo. Check it out.

Neat huh?

There are three things I would say about his representation of me however.

1) it’s at least four stone too light
2) it’s at least 35% too handsome
3) it’s at least 6.66% too evil

I love it. David Hockney is a lucky guy.

So, to keep the interactivity going - I know, I know, I'm like a cheesy DJ - tell me, has anyone ever drawn a portrait or caricature of you? Was it any good? Or were you bloody annoyed? Leave your answers, or anything else you have stored up in your heart, in the comments.


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Tim Footman said...

Mr Clark was, of course, stabbed to death by his ex-boyfriend. Just warning you.

Oh, and moderate shame here.

Ani Smith said...

What a comment whore. Okay, I'll bite ... between this caricature of you and the revelation that you are a hardened criminal (shoplifting post) I am finding you 45% more attractive.

Anonymous said...

Bonjour La Bête,
A few years ago, I draw a set of cards where I was all the kings and Jacks, and my wife was the Queens. It took me a few weeks, but as I was on the dole I had lots of free time.
If ever you travel to the south of France, I'll be glad to show you this masterpiece. If I can find it.
Uncle Did

Anonymous said...

I went to a theme park and paid for a caricature and it turned out horrid. I don't know if I was appalled because it looked nothing like me- or too much like what I think other people see me as. either way I had to keep it- cause I paid for it.

My ex was a graffiti artist-so I have been captured on concrete with spray paint before. I was impressed and it was really sweet. Although, I can honestly say he had a very rosy colored outlook on my physique.- Sweet man.

Also, in high school- I painted a study of Toulouse Lautrec's- Le Clowness Fastening Her Bodice, and I think it turned out mighty spiffy. It hangs in my house till this very day. I heart Toulouse Lautrec, he's one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

My ex husband and I were given a painting as a wedding present by a close family friend of mine that my ex was convinced was in love with me. The painting features a couple in a close embrace, gazing adorably at each other and the ex swears that the girl is me. I'm not convinced. Especially as the artist came out a year or so later!

Our Glamorous Heroine said...

He is a talented man. You look wonderfully brooding in that picture. Your flat must be a veritable hub of creativity.

As for portraits, my best friend at school drew me as part of her A level art and I was moved to a snivelling heap of public emotion when she proclaimed that I was beautiful despite having just had the misfortune to sit staring at my face for over an hour. Unfortunately, however beautiful she thought I was, I did end up looking like a gnome in her sketch.

My first proper boyfriend drew me too. I found sitting for someone a strangely intimate experience on both occasions. It was a really lovely picture, if extremely over-flattering, and I managed to lose it about two weeks after he gave it to me. That was years ago and I still berate myself for being a careless cunt.

And the interactivity is good. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. Of course by everyone I mean me.

Misssy M said...

Two portraits of me exist. One painting with my siblings that was done by a chap called Martin Stephenson who is reasonably well known. My dad knew him and paid a fortune for it. My Mum hates it and it is in the loft (maybe I am aging in it..?)but I think it's amazing (but wouldn't have it hanging in my own house)

Another is of me at 13 done by a disgusting old guy in Brazil who held me close to him and rubbed hs crotch against me while he worked. I couldn't move or run and tell my parents. I still have it but can barely look at it and hope the artist died horribly in a bizarre penis chopping off related accident.

Anonymous said...

Hey you! Thanks for the plug(s). Traffic's gone through the roof. Not that I've checked like a slag or anything.

Like the title, Keith's Talent. Keith Talent!


Anonymous said...

Oh, forgot to mention: you pleasured yourself to the card? I am genuinely moved by that.

Anonymous said...

ogh - your liberal use of the word cunt does make me laugh. I hope you can continue to include it in every one of your posts.

Then I might have to break my self-imposed rule about not reading any blogs except Bete's (well, I do check in on NotKeith every now and then, but that's allowed).

Anonymous said...

By the way, I too felt that there was something Hopperish about NK's drawing. When I first saw Hopper's 'Summertime', it gave me a slight erection. I didn't pleasure myself over that painting though. Incidentally, I thought the picture on the wall was a scene from Withnail & I.

I can't tell NotKeith any of this, as he doesn't allow anonymous posters. Quite right too.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, anonymous, settings now tweaked to allow anonymous comments. And avatars! Thanks. I'll now get out of Betty's comments thread as I'm now painfully aware of how desperate I look.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not I got pissed/stoned with some mates at the weekend and we drew caricatures of each other's boobs, and then critiqued each other's pics. I have the notebook to prove it.

I don't think anyone's ever drawn my face though. I'm quite glad of that. I generally think portraits do the subjects no favours, and I bet I'd hate it if anyone ever did try it, and that would seem rather ungrateful. Bag of worms, innit.

I never like photos of myself either. Somebody did once present me with a framed photo of me as a Xmas gift, and I was thoroughly baffled by it - couldn't see how anybody could have ever thought it was even slightly flattering. Made me look even worse than I already think I look, and I am not in the least bit vain.

The mini-pic of me that accompanies this 'ere comment ain't bad though. Aha. There you go. Yes. A friend did it for me to use on book publicity, and it is a rare example of a portrait I like. Phew.

Anonymous said...

Great picture. Lovely to see Pablo immortalised. I posed nude for a friend when I was 17 going on 18 (a very awkward age for me). And he posed nude for me. I was seriously into drawing nudes at that time - I think he was just into getting chicks nuded up at that time! Nevertheless, he was very talented. The final painting from his sketches was a modern spin on Ingres' Grand Odalisque. And I remember being amazed at how beautiful she was and thinking it couldn't be me but she was. I suddenly felt much less awkward. 17 years later my mum still has no idea...

Panda said...

Fabulous sketch. Totally talented.

I used to do portraits, which I enjoyed especially when the sitter was someone I found attractive. I could gaze straight at them, eye-to-eye and unabashed, and they were none the wiser.

Now I realise that that was completely and utterly creepy.


Mrs. Hall said...

I am sure there are hundreds of paintings, drawings, photographs of me out there.

I was a nude model for various art colleges for a few years.

I always liked the community colleges though. Always had older artists, who drew because they loved to draw.


Mrs. Hall

Ariel said...

You ARE like a cheesy DJ! Do you do dedications too, or profess that 'night time is the right time'?! Caricatures, hell no, no one would dare!!!

La Bête said...

Tim. Oh. Thanks for that.

Ani, better a comment whore than, I don’t know, a Hob Nob whore, for example. You know, strangely, I actually feel 45% more attractive after your comment. Thanks.

Uncle D, that sounds marvellous. I hope one day to take you up on your offer.

Selena, being a graffiti artist’s muse sounds pretty cool. As does the expression ‘captured on concrete’. Banksy should have used that for the name of his book.

Hey, Pen, maybe the artist was in love with your husband. That would throw the cat amongst the pigeons.

OGH, you’re quite the muse too. How on earth did you manage to lose the painting? Careless c-word indeed.

Hey, Misssy, what – Martin Stephenson of Martin Stephenson and the Daintees fame? And yes, ewww and indeed cock-death to the Brazilian crotch-rubber.

NK, hush now.

Anon, yeah, it’s definitely Withnail and I. In fact, that was my only problem with the picture was that Marwood looks a little washed out. Poor chap.

Clare, does this mean you all bared yourselves? You’re a rum bunch, aren’t you? And that is a fairly odd Christmas present, yes. It’s reminded me of a story though...

AK, that’s a cool story. You and your artist friend sound pretty cool. What’s he doing now, do you know?

Hi, Panda. That does sounds slightly creepy, yes. You didn’t rub your crotch against them too, did you? If so, I insist you come and do a portrait of me at once.

Wow, Mrs H. That’s pretty damn cool too. Imagine how many times you must have been the subject of artists’ fantasies. Just imagine.

Ariel, I know! Thanks for that. Back with more comments after the travel news.

Misssy M said...

Re: Martin Stephenson- not him of Daintees fame, another one, but if I could just name drop and tell you that my husband's band played with Martin Stephenson and the Daintees not one week ago near Inverness and he dedicated and improvised a song for them in his set called "Beautiful Lorelei" (they are called The Lorelei- that's why...). They've been going on about it ever since. Which is fair enough, really.

La Bête said...

Wow, that's pretty cool. Hmmmmmm... which one is your husband then?

Anonymous said...

I have many, many self-portraits (mostly in pencil and watercolour) - including a huge nude that hangs at the head of my bed. It's certainly an ice-breaker! I also had someone do my portait at a fair once. It was pretty good.

Maria in Oregon

Anonymous said...

Oh, I don't want you to think I'm narscisistic or anything. I'm an artist (as a hobby), and it's difficult to ask someone if you can paint them nude. They get the wrong idea. I can't tell you how many awkward situations I've experienced after an innocent question like, "Do you want to get naked for me?" paintbrush in hand...


Anonymous said...

"does this mean you all bared yourselves?"

Yes. It's my friend Saira's fault. She's always at it. It's not as exciting as it sounds though, it was all very matter of fact.

I was Official Scribe for the evening due to the fact that I always get a notebook out and start scribbling when I'm stoned, and it became a collaborative affair (hence breast sketches), so the whole thing will be written up and blogged at some point, as I have been charged with producing a full report and circulating to all attendees.

Misssy M said...

Re the link- Meeester M is the singer- the one in the bottom middle feigning surprise.