Making art with Jessye Norman

Making art with Jessye Norman


norman lebrecht

October 06, 2019

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. 



  • Nice Try says:

    Who cares? This is bad hotel art at best. Unrecognizable – it looks like a drag queen.

    • Melisande says:

      Shameless and hurtful post.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        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.

        • Tiredofitall says:

          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.

    • John Rees says:

      Rude and unnecessary remark.

    • JPAULO says:

      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.

    • Nick2 says:

      Clearly Nice Try rarely if ever saw Jessye Norman on stage! Drag Queen? Utter rubbish!

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Please post an example of your superior art, Mr. or Ms. Nice Try.
      We’re waiting!

    • Bruce says:

      “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.

    • Jack says:

      Tells us what kind of hotels you frequent.

    • Chris says:

      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.

  • Samuel Koltinsky says:

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

  • Mace Windu says:

    May the Force be with her, always.