The photo above is of my mother, probably in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The image suggests that she was a lively young woman who must have been quite something to the young art student who met her in 1951 or '52, married her, and collaborated with her in producing me in late '53.
Below is a portrait my father painted of her early in their marriage. My mother was a pretty woman, as you can see, and my father loved her as much as it's possible to love a spouse, I think. To my knowledge, this is the only portrait he ever painted of her. I've never found another, or even any sketches. He just didn't paint her, or me. There are a few portraits of me as a little boy which he did with his camera. But no drawings, no paintings.
He seemed to lack the impulse to paint. It's odd to say that about a man who studied for five years at art school, but I don't remember him ever evincing real interest in being an artist. He showed little creative drive to make things. When he did paint with oils, or carve a piece of wood, or pick up pastels to work on a still life, he clearly enjoyed himself, but when he did make a picture, it was because he enjoyed spending some of his time that way, not because he wanted to create a new art object. He always said he had nothing to say, but I think what he meant was he had nothing he wanted to say.
What I really think was going on was he lacked confidence as a painter, and perhaps more to the point he shied from opening up emotionally and putting what he felt on a canvas. My father always claimed to be perplexed by passion, by strong emotion, but I think it scared him. He was a physically courageous man who lacked emotional courage. To him, any emotional information was too much information. His youngest brother once told me the most striking thing about my dad as a boy was how much of a loner he was. I think he never pursued being an artist because he couldn't stand the messy introspection that would require, and couldn't bear to invite the world to gaze into his heart in the way that an artist must. He didn't want to do it with friends, so he didn't have any, and he didn't want to do it with paint, so he has few paintings.
Look closely at the oil portrait of my mother and you'll notice it was left unfinished—Dad never filled in her ear. Why, so close to completion of what I think is a lovely canvas, did he stop? Why did he never go back and paint the last bits? My father was a mystery to me in many ways, and this is one.