Making art with Jessye Norman

Artist Norman Perryman describes the remarkably friendly experience of taking Jessye’s portrait, here.

I had run out of my favourite Arches’ watercolour paper with the Satiné finish that allows the washes to float on the surface with extra brilliance. With Christmas approaching, a new roll had not yet arrived. I had set myself the challenge to create clouds of golden watercolour that would spread in a way that would “breathe” the vocal sound. I had to breathe with Jessye to make the painting sing. 


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      • Insulting the art is not the same as insulting Jessye Norman. The implication is that it’s not worthy of J.N. I really almost agree with that.

        • I respectfully disagree. Most of all for the timing so soon after Ms. Norman’s death. It was not necessary to express anything at all. Melisande is totally correct.

    • A bit harsh. I like it, and love her as I did she DID look like a drag queen. She was larger than life in every way. A voice like that will not come around again soon. May she rest in peace.

    • “This is bad hotel art at best. Unrecognizable – it looks like a drag queen.”

      (a) your opinion.
      (b) I recognized her right away. She had a wide variety of facial expressions while performing, not just the “serene album cover” face. This painting looks like it captured her in mid-sentence, as it were.
      (c) …in my opinion.

    • I have seen most of Norman Perryman’s portraits he has executed since he began his time at Symphony Hall, and these include Rattle (of course), plus countless other eminent performers who have appeared there over a long period of time. This portrait of Jessye Norman is typical Perryman, and captures her perfectly. If she had not approved of it SHE would have been the first to say so.

  • Thank you for sharing your art and story. A great tribute to a great person whose voice will never be matched.

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