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  • I got there at 9 am but I didn't get much business until 11:30. Saturday mornings at the farmer's market are for ladies with what I assume are lumpen babies hidden inside those Mexican slings. Sleeping babies that look like flesh-covered pickles. These mama's rush to get their basil clumps, their raw milk and if I wasn't wearing a bright pink turban on my head and a rainbow skirt they would run me and my easel over with their double-decker baby carriages. These baby carriages look different from the ones I rode. Three wheels, ergonomically correct, padded with enough plastic to yield four 1980's carriages.

    All you can do is smile at them at their writhing future customers.

    The hot time for portraits is 11:30-1:30 when all the kids ages 5-9 hit the market with their families.

    Q: How much are your portraits?

    A: I accept as much as you feel they're worth, or as much as you are able to pay.

    Most people come up with $5.

    Sometimes a generous person will give me $20. It is not unusual for that same person to ask…

    Q: Are you a 'starving' artist?

    One cheapskate gave me a quarter. I forgive this cheapskate because they were only 10 years old. I call this child a cheapskate though because it is true. One of the cheapskate's friends also got a portrait done and dug up every bit of change she had, 35 cents. The cheapskate urged her friend not to pay me 'all that money!!! It's only a portrait. We still have to play games and stuff!' To the cheapskate's other friend who handed me an entire dollar after her portrait, the cheapskate suggested that I give her change so that I'm 'not paid all of that.'

    Another child to his mother…

    Q: Mom, do we HAVE to pay her?

    Mom: Of course!

    Me: I HAVE to eat tonight.

    The apex of Saturday's session was when an entire 1st grade birthday party watched me draw the birthday girl.

    The worst of course is when you draw someone, and catch their essential information: the wild wind-blown hair, the experienced look in their eye, the mole and the smile lines, only to have them give you a contemptuous look after viewing the finished product. I generally receive this response from females. Particularly adolescents and women 50 years of age or older.

    But I'm used to it. The people I cannot understand:

    1. Parents who physically prod their children to smile (while even smile? Isn't that what digital cameras are for?)

    2. Parents who start to remove tiaras or capes from their kid for the big picture, and then give me three dollars afterwards.

    3. When adults see the commissioned portrait includes the butterfly face paint on their child and go "Oh. You included the butterfly?" (see picture)

    4. Families of 7-10 people who want a highly detailed group portrait done within a minute or two.

    Things slow down again around 2 pm when the teenagers arrive on the scene. The teenagers do not want a portrait right away. First they make the rounds and check out who else has shown up. They need time to promenade in their shorts (rolled up against their parents wishes after they left the house). To see and be seen. Only once it can be determined that 'you-know-who-' is not around to flirt will they submit to having their visage copied.

    Sunburned and rich ($121. 36!), I left my station briefly to ask someone to assist me in getting my equipment back into the car. At that moment the wind blasted a thrustgust. Tents twisted, skirts billowed and my easel slapped shut skidding across the pavement. My drawing pad soared into the street and landed where several cars ran over it leaving tire marks. All my bright orange hand-printed (as in linocut printmaking) business cards fluttered away like monarch butterflies.

    Who knows where they ended up?
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