Fresh off the plane from my New Orleans trip, it was my idea to load the kids into our camper and trek from the Kansas City area all the way to NYC, with a few days in Washington D.C. for family appropriate patriotic activities. Seth, then newly 13, and Grace not quite 12, mastered the subways and crowds like professionals. We were only accosted once overall and I was proud of them for how they followed my lead.
On our third day, we criss crossed Manhattan Island to spend a day at the beach in Coney Island to dip our toes in the Atlantic and survey the remnants of Sandy's wrath on the coast line. That's when I saw her, tromping down the boardwalk, tattooed from head to toe and talking boisterously to her friends.
Now my husband and I have a little trick that helps me capture candid pics of my muses, before they know I'm taking photos. He and I face each other and pretend we're having a conversation about what I'm looking at on my iPhone (but I'm actually taking photos over his shoulder). This helps tremendously since as soon as you ask most people if you can photograph them and use the pics as reference to make a painting, they square their shoulders to you and give you a horrible "Sears Portrait Studio" expression. So candids really help.
Just before I approached the bohemian beauty with tattoos from forehead to toe with bonus nose and ear spikes, I had a brief second thought as I imagined her socking me square in the nose and in a cliché New York accent telling me to "Back the f*** off!" But she surprised me! I watched her features melt and listened to the slow resonance of her demure cantata in a Scottish accent. Her voice and innocent eyes were just about as out of place with her ink as I could have imagined possible. "Poppy Moon," she sang her name. "I'm from Scotland, I'm just in New York for a year or two or maybe three. I don't stay anywhere too long, I like to travel."
Poppy was shocked in the sweetest way that I would want to paint "her" picture. She of the two of us was the nervous one. I giggled inside as I realized what a doe she was, so gentle and so magnificent. Though I'd never test it to see if she could hold her own, I have no doubt. She stood easily 5'9". But Poppy's outer appearance is deceptive. Inside she's a mystical, wistful girl with baby blue eyes.
I doubt Poppy wastes any of her time on the internet. She's feasting on the world from minute to minute. But if you get a glimpse of "Baby Blue" Poppy, I hope you are as in love with her as I am.