Anyone who knows my friend Herb Siegel knows that he loves his dog Charley more than anyone or anything else on earth. A Shichon (a mixed breed cross between a Shih Tzu and a Bichon Frise), Charley has been with Herb for about fourteen years, such a sweet dog as his constant companion, even during those brief times when Herb didn’t have a female companion. A big supporter of the arts, Herb owns quite a few drawings and paintings of Charley, including a little 5” x 5” canvas that I painted of his dog over four years ago. I must confess that I tossed off that little painting in one sitting, simply to complete a grouping of portraits of Herb and his beautiful Sydelle.
Fast forward from four years ago to four months ago, when I had just completed a portrait of my granddog JJ. Herb took one look at that painting and turned to me to ask, “Will you paint Charley for me?” How could I refuse? Herb and Sydelle are dear friends and among the very few couples we see in these days of Covid-19. I have a habit of labeling photos of my paintings “redux” when I’ve revisited a subject, which happens from time to time, so here is Charley Redux…four years older, done by a better painter than I was four years ago.
Two years ago, I decided to paint a small portrait of my friend, Sydelle, who was celebrating the same “big birthday” I was celebrating that year. Wanting to surprise her with it, I couldn’t ask her for a photograph, so I snapped a picture of a framed photo of her with her significant other, my great good friend, Herb, and his dog, Charley, that was on the desk in their kitchen.
I gave her that portrait a few months later and was happy to see it in their family room every time I was there. More than that, Herb was really taken by it and constantly complimented my ability to catch a likeness, encouraging me to market that ability.
Fast forward…now Herb is about to celebrate an even bigger birthday. How could I not paint a portrait of him, after all that praise? Although Sydelle tried to send me photographs to use this time, none of them quite worked for me, so I went back to the same one I had used for her portrait and, just because Herb loves him more than anything on earth, painted Charley as well, on a little 5” X 5” canvas of his own. When I first painted the grisaille for Herb’s portrait, I thought I had not quite caught the likeness yet, so I started calling it “Almost Herb.” The title tickled me, so it stuck, though I do think that anyone who knows Herb Siegel, legendary playboy and lawyer from Buffalo, NY, would recognize him in this.
Happy birthday, Herb!