Around 3pm on Friday afternoon Leonard emerged from the kitchen with a bottle of red wine and three glasses and announced that the finishing touches to our portrait were finally complete so we should have a ‘libation’ to celebrate.
“I have saved an exceptional Amarone in anticipation of this special occasion,” he said, as he wrenched the cork from the bottle and eagerly filled the glasses to the rim.
I was overwhelmed with pride when I saw the finished portrait for the first time. It is a beautiful piece - subject matter aside! Leonard has given a shine to my hair that would make even the greatest hair stylist green with envy and he has highlighted my eyes so brightly that they glisten like diamonds on the surface of the paper. Even Luke commented on how realistic the portrait looked, remarking that it looked like a mirror.
“You must take it home with you to show your friends and family,” Leonard said to me as he wiped down the frame of the portrait with a piece of rag.
Initially I refused and insisted that he kept the picture but he was equally adamant that I took it home, to such an extent that I was offended by his seemingly dismissive attitude towards our work. But my disappointment was quickly dispelled when he explained “we have months…who know maybe years…of portraiture ahead of us. Besides I’ve already started priming the canvas for our next project!”. I was won over by Leonard’s enthusiasm and agreed to take the portrait home and so Leonard set about wrapping it in black bin liners and securing it with masking tape so that I could carry it onto the bus (it is currently resting against a wall in the front room until I decide where to hang it and Alex admitted that he was impressed by it when I unveiled it on Saturday morning, although it was a very begrudging compliment).
Perhaps it was the heady delight of seeing the completed project for the first time or it was just the intoxicating properties of Leonard’s wine, but the tense atmosphere between Luke, Leonard and I relaxed a great deal on Friday afternoon. Luke was in very high spirits and he was keen to hear more about my work with Leonard, so the three of us had a long and in-depth conversation about our future plans. Leonard even proposed that Luke and I collaborate on a piece together. A bronze maybe. ‘Lovers Entwined’, he jokingly suggested, raising an embarrassed smile from us both.
I am relieved that the portrait is finally finished, particularly in view of my forthcoming exam period. Leonard is sensitive to the fact that my final year exams begin next week and he has insisted that I bring my revision books with me to our sittings. He has been providing me with study aids since my first sessions at the house but, if I’m entirely honest, most of the books that he has donated to me are on unrelated subjects such as art history and English literature and they are simply cluttering up the flat and annoying Alex, who objects to our front room resembling a second-hand book shop.