My first post talked about the artist, Alice Neel. I have been personally inspired by Alice’s story for a long time.
There have been many connections between Alice and me. Alice was a portrait painter and so am I. Alice’s crazy boyfriend, Kenneth Doolittle, destroyed her work; I had a boyfriend who tore pages out of my sketchbook and ripped up my watercolors when we broke up. Alice had two children who she raised while she painted. Seeing their mom paint around them as she cared for them and as they lived their childhood lives was their norm. The other day, I overheard my son telling a friend that I paint all the time: when he comes home from school, I’m painting; after he goes to bed – still painting. Not resentful in the least, he actually sounded proud. Like Alice, I feel guilty that painting is such a huge part of my life – sometimes dinner is late, the house is a mess – there is no time for domestic chores – I’m in the middle of a painting.
Recently, I saw a documentary about Alice Neel, filmed by her grandson. You can rent it on Netflix. Curl up one night when you are alone and watch this inspiring film about a woman who gave her everything to paint. And about her two sons, who are so proud of her; whose love for her is profound despite her preoccupation with painting and their subsequent poverty. They had nothing growing up. Nothing but a mom who provided an example of a person pursuing a passion who also loved them completely. Definitely ahead of her time, Alice Neel.