I had also recently completed a portrait of Ralph Boekemeier, another famous resident of Pine Plains, at work. Ralph had found very meaningful and rewarding his work as a master carpenter. He and I had tried out many poses but it was only after he said that he would like to be painted with his tools that something clicked. I moved my easel from the studio into his basement workshop and we were able to capture the right pose -- Ralph at his drill press. Why not do Tim at work and launch a series called something like "Pine Plains at Work?"
During the winter months, I worked on ideas for the spring painting of Tim. I looked at many other portraits. But it was by accident, in a literary magazine, Times Literary Supplement, that I came upon the portrait painting that just stopped me in my tracks.
When Tim and I got together again in April, I showed him this painting and we talked about recent research in psychology on self and identity. We covered ideas like those about fluidity in identity and about how people negotiate their many identities while they simultaneously seek to hold onto some sense of unity and coherence of self. Tim connected with these ideas instantly. We were soon onto talking about how many and which of his many identities we would place on the canvas and what else we would put into the painting. It all fell quickly into place. Without lots of words, we decided: the identities would be three. They would represent Tim, the outdoors person in the central position; Tim, the artist/artisan, the image I had anticipated and knew what most folks would expect, on the right; and on the left would be Tim, the man who needs to go out into the public to promote and sell the work he designs. Also effortless was our selection of clothing and props for each Tim. He sat in one place in the studio, just changing into the right clothing and props for "each Tim," and I moved my easel around the room. Here is what we came up with through our collaboration, Portrait of Tim Jones in Three Views: