It’s not every day that a world famous artist asks to paint you. But that’s what happened: while Joyce and I were up in Santa Barbara for the weekend. Sabrina – who has work hanging in several museums – asked me to sit for her. (“Sit” in that sense was my new word for the day.)
When I didn’t say anything at first, Sabrina told me that she’d spoken to Luke about it and he said that he thought I’d be cool with it…not that he knew me all that well.
Then Luke came over to us, looking very expectant.
“What’s the verdict?”
I really had no idea what to say. I was still processing it. A whole bunch of thoughts were running wild in my head, like was I going to end up in a museum or something? And what would everybody think – Joyce? Keaton? Meemaw? Dad?? The closest I’ve come to having my portrait painted is when, to get a free haircut back in Hickory, I let the stylist take some pictures of me and put them up on the salon wall.
“She painted me last year,” Luke said to me. “Justen bought the picture; I’ll show it to you later.”
“Don’t worry,” Sabrina said, guessing one of the things I was worrying about, “I don’t paint nudes. You’ll have clothes on.”
“My portrait’s shirtless,” said Luke.
“I’ll probably want you shirtless too. If that’s okay?”
I’d been running and splashing around all day without a shirt on. I may not look like Luke with my shirt off, but I don’t have my own gym and two hours a day every day to spend in it. Let me just put it this way: Keaton says I look gay with my shirt off. I’m pretty sure that’s his idea of a compliment lol.
“That would be okay.” Nude would have been a dealbreaker. Even if that makes me sound like an illiterate redneck. Besides, I’d feel like a total idiot standing in some artist’s studio wearing just the clothes I’d been born in.
“How much time would be involved?” It may not seem like it to y’all, but, between work, the Parrots, Lucas, boxing lessons and a girlfriend, I’m a pretty busy dude these days.
“I’d need you at least twice a week, maybe for a couple hours each time. A person can only pose for so long, and I don’t like having crabby models when I’m trying to paint them.”
“Sabrina paints pretty fast. You were done with me in less than a month,” said Lucas, turning to her. “But,” he continued, turning back to me, “I sat for her three times a week, four times once. Justen has an apartment he keeps in LA. I stayed there…I wasn’t going to drive down to LA from Santa Barbara that often.”
“Where in LA do you work?,” I asked. I probably should have asked where her studio was, but I was a little mixed up and couldn’t remember the word.
“Jonas and I recently moved to South Pasadena. He wanted to get away from all the Hollywood types on the Westside. Lucas said you live in Pasadena – so that ought to be convenient.”
It would. If I wanted to be painted in the first place.
“Can I think about it?,” I said. “I wasn’t expecting to be asked a question like that. I mean…I’m real flattered and all…but…can I sleep on it?” I had a lot of people I wanted to ask before I made my decision: Joyce, Keaton (although I knew what he was going to say…and so can y’all) and, more importantly, Meemaw, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to reach her until the next morning. She stays up late, but not until 2:00 in the morning.
“Of course,” said Sabrina. “Jonas and I are planning to leave after a late breakfast. You can tell me then. Or you can call me later this week with your decision. I hope you say yes: you’re a pleasure to draw.”
I had no idea what that meant. If she was calling me a pretty boy, that was the nicest way I’d ever heard it done.
“Let me show you my portrait,” Luke said, putting down his cognac glass. “Maybe it’ll help you make up your mind.” He turned to Sabrina again. “Would you like to come?”
“No thanks. I hate being there when other people look at my work.”
So Luke took me out of the drawing room and down a couple hallways to a part of the house I didn’t know. I already told y’all that Justen had a famous art collection. Although I’m sure all the paintings on the walls (even the ones in my room) were valuable, he kept the most important ones in a special gallery, which looked just like a museum. That’s where the Picasso was; it wasn’t very big and it was only different shades of brown, but it was a fuckin Picasso. I couldn’t help being impressed.
On the opposite wall was Sabrina’s portrait of Luke. I wasn’t sure what to expect, or even if it would look like him. I mean, I knew from the sketches Sabrina had made out by the pool that afternoon that she could draw people who looked like people, but that doesn’t mean her portraits weren’t all crazy and modern and wouldn’t have Luke’s arm coming out of his nose or some shit like that.
I didn’t need to worry. The portrait looked just like Luke. And it made him look good. He was leaning back on his hands with his shirt off, and his hair was a lot longer than it is now. The background was just some shapes in different shades of blue – Sabrina knew the trick people with blue eyes have about wearing blue to make our eyes pop lol. The painting was bigger than I expected, and even I could tell it was the work of an artist.
I’m not sure what I meant by it in my brain, but I was also a little worried that the portrait would look gay. I mean, it was a painting of a gay man hanging in the house of another gay man who he was in a relationship with, but maybe because it was painted by a woman, it didn’t look gayass at all.
So I liked it. I’d be perfectly cool if Sabrina painted me and it turned out like her picture of Luke. I mean…me and Luke look pretty different (no: all pretty boys do not look alike lol), and I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to copy herself, but Luke’s picture did give me some confidence that Sabrina wasn’t going to do some kind of fucked up weirdass painting of me.
So me and Luke went back to the drawing room, where Lord Malcom jumped on us right away.
“And where had the two Ganymedes got off to?,” he asked.
“I was showing Hunter the painting Sabrina did of me.”
“Dorian Gray looking at the picture of another Dorian Gray,” said Lord Malcom. “You should paint that, Sabrina.”
Luke answered him instead.