Portrait of the Artist

My husband was an artist and so it seemed fitting to write a profile/portrait of him that described him primarily in terms of color.

Portrait of the Artist

The artist in you
understood color so well.
And yet, even as you layered on
red and green,
so much of you was blue.

Your white hair,
loosened from the pony tail

and streaming down your back
in your wild man look,
prompted strangers to ask
if you were a shaman,
or declare you to be one.

But there was
that black in you
that altered it,
that shade created
by the blend
of white and black
you knew so well.

The red that flamed out from your work,
subtly put there even in places
where it had no logical purpose for being,

that red tried to make things right.

Yet all of us
who knew you well

knew the blue.
It was the background color
of all of your days.

It was the blanket
in which we wrapped
at night,

trying to be close,
but so often

by it.

For fifteen years, I tried
to paint you yellow.
There were splashes of it, surely,

throughout our lives together.
You on the stage, reading your heart,
me in the audience, recognizing
all the colors caught within you.

Finding the pictures you had taken of me
studying your work at the art show,

those pictures you had snapped surreptitiously
even before we  met,

I discovered, after your passing,
that you had recognized
me even then, when I thought
I was the only one
angling for a meeting—
sure of my need to know
those secret parts of you

that I will never know
now that you have given yourself
to whatever color your ever-after
has delivered you to.

A new life later,
I am suffused
by my own canvas
of memories of you—
every other pigment
splashed against
a vivid background
of yellow.


The dVerse Poetics prompt is to create a profile or self-profile in verse. Go HERE to read additional poems written to this prompt by others.

41 thoughts on “Portrait of the Artist

  1. sharon

    Oh Judy what an image that poem creates…so lucky to have known Bob…and we are so lucky to know you. Thanks again for a wonderful relaxing vacay at your place. still dreaming of it. love light and much laughter to you from sharon and bill

    Liked by 1 person

  2. msjadeli

    There is a clarity of expression as you go through the palette of your husband’s attributes. Without bias, with a detachment that had to be in order to write it. The end allows the depth of your feeling to shine. I’m sorry for your loss, Judy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rothpoetry

    An excellent poem!! I love the way you used color to describe him and you together. As I read this I am hearing Patsy Cline singing Sweet Dreams of You! How appropriate!


  4. kim881

    I love the way you captured emotion in:
    ‘And yet, even as you layered on
    red and green,
    so much of you was blue.’
    Great use of colour in the whole poem, Judy, to create a poignant portrait.


  5. anmol(alias HA)

    How beautiful! The way you used all these colours to paint the picture is so well done — the corresponding emotions are made more effective because of that. I also like the ending and this bit in particular: “I am suffused/by my own canvas/of memories of you”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)

    There is such meaning in the colors, the blue and black he kept to himself…. sometimes I feel that artists only uses the colors that they don’t need to keep to themselves, and I’m reminded about the vividly yellow painting by Van Gogh while he was most depressed.

    Liked by 1 person


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