I saw Maya Angelou at the Rainbow Sign, a former Berkeley mortuary on Grove Street, a year after the publication of her book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” (Link to event announcement).
We sat around her on the funky carpet in the former chapel, and listened raptly as she read and spoke about her life’s journey so far. At that time she was the first ever African-American best-selling author and like me, was living in Berkeley.
I used the photo reference above from around that same time for my preparatory sketch below.
I painted her twice, using a limited three-color palette of DS Quinacridone Gold, WN Perylene Maroon, and DS Indanthrone Blue. Below is the first (failed) painting attempt.
In the painting (above, Yuck!) I made her skin too dark and too orange, plus when I added Rose of Ultramarine for her dress and Winsor Blue to a gold background, I made a green that clashed with the purple dress.
For some reason this snippet of her talk 50 years ago has always stayed with me. She said:
My grandmother always told me,Maya Angelou
“You don’t always get what you pay for,
but you always pay for what you get.”