(oil over collage background. created from recycled materials)
“I do not grant my love without reason, nor to any chance passer-by who may wish to claim it. I honor men with my love. But honor is a thing to be earned.”
“Love is the expression of one’s values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.”
Sometimes I wonder what kind of a person I would be if I didn’t fall in love with reading early in my childhood. Then I get to interact with someone self-absorbed and intolerant and I don’t have to wonder anymore. I believe that tolerance and empathy are in many ways learned behaviors. They’re definitely something that could be instilled by the parents as well as learned on your own through literature.
Books don’t tend to focus on the lukewarm characters. The majority of literary personas have exaggerated personalities whether good or bad. Their behavior is meant to evoke strong emotions within us. We love or hate them. When we feel the former we subconsciously try to emulate their character traits.
Throughout my childhood and youth I certainly tried to model my behavior on a number of literary heroines who appealed to my sensibilities. They were usually logical, straightforward and adventurous. Moody dames with a tendency to faint and over-complicate things had zero appeal to me. Although I understood from early on that they appealed to quite a few men in literature as well as in real life. Oftentimes the less predictable or the more seemingly defenseless the better.
That being said, I believe that everyone serves their purpose. Once again, it’s as true in fiction as it is in real life. An author as well as ‘the Creator’ have to place certain individuals among ‘normal people’ so we as a society know how not to behave.
At this point you’re probably wondering where I’m going with all this… Well… the above is the backstory to this portrait. You see, years ago I was reading Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’. One of the characters in the book was Dominique Francon and she annoyed the heck out of me. She was portrayed as illogical and unpredictable. A quintessential stereotype of a rich attractive female who does as she pleases.
While I had no problem identifying myself with Howard Roark, a young architect who believed in his talent and stood by his principles, I thought the bitchy Dominique was a woman who creates a lot of melodrama where there should be none. As I kept on reading I kept on wondering what idiotic behavior Dominique would engage in the next chapter. To me she became an embodiment of the reasons so many men are suspicious of attractive women. But what did she look like? Somehow, I needed to visualize her.
Then one day, I saw a photo of Greta Garbo. I believe it was from a movie. Although I’m not sure which one. “There!”, I said to myself, “That’s Dominique!” So I decided to paint her…