“Portrait of Catherine Sullivan Oztekin”

Pencil, pastel, and watercolor


Well, I wouldn’t be the first in this world to have noticed that, while a smile might and may convey many things, it’s only very rarely that obvious kindness is conveyed. Maybe it’s in the eyes….maybe in the smile. In any case, you can see it in this portrait. I knew Catherine “Cacky” Sullivan (” Catherine Sullivan Oztekin” these days) during my college days at Sewanee, where she figured rather prominently as a pretty, pleasant, and quite warrantedly popular girl. I hadn’t, though, particularly thought of her in 36 years until I encountered her page on Facebook a few years ago……and immediately thought “Good Lord….she’s certainly grown up to be a beautiful woman”. Turns out that she has done so, in all the various ways one might define “beautiful”. I’m rarely struck by how lovely some folks are (frankly, I’ve been paid plenty of money, over the years, to paint more than plenty of physically beautiful folks who are otherwise utterly forgettable), but Cacky’s genuinely warm smile struck me, and I asked her (in an email) if I could paint her someday. She said yes…..but I think she was fairly surprised that anyone would want to paint her. “Add a complete lack of vanity to this woman’s list of virtues”, I thought. It remains that she was always a pretty girl, but something indefinable happened around age forty, and she became beautiful. Just a fact. So, sitting here in this old inn (which is currently deserted, courtesy of a stray pandemic), I decided this morning to finally paint Cacky’s portrait. It’s small, of course…..but so is most of my work. It’ll be a gift to Cacky and her husband, of course.