“For Leslie” (portrait of Rafael Tal)
Oil pencil, pastel, and watercolor
March 2021
I was sitting on the back porch of this old inn yesterday morning when the news came in that Rafi (who, with his wife, Leslie, has owned and run this inn for almost twenty years) had died a few hours earlier. He has been quite ill fora long time, but he and Leslie were at least able to go back to Israel, where Rafi was born and raised. I’m choosing my words carefully here (which is why this portrait is simply named “For Leslie”; it’ll be waiting for her when she’s able to return). Suffice it to say that Rafi was deeply funny (in his gruff way) and, above all, kind to me when I was in need. I did my bit of crying, along with everyone else on that porch…..and then came inside to start this portrait. Painting seems the one thing I still do well. Leslie has four grown children and a boatload of longtime friends. I haven’t written to her yet. I’ll do so, later today. I hope this portrait will afford more comfort to her than anything I could write. Rafi was, indeed, a pretty wondrous (if, indeed, gruff and equipped with a Henry Kissinger voice) man……and I’ll remain grateful for having known him. i also happen to think he was sorta devilishly handsome, also, too……