Sojourner Saraley— Portrait Study

I am starting a series of portrait studies of Saraley, a young German-born free spirit of Iranian/Persian heritage.

Like many people of her generation, Saraley is seeking out her life’s path. She began her Wanderjahr here in the U.S., and she is, as of this writing, sojourning in Southern California.

She has seen our coastal cities, but it was our California wilderness that impressed her. She was in awe of our huge forests of ancient redwoods and giant primeval sequoias. And she saw so many more stars at night.


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In the portrait, Saraley is posing with a vest that I asked her to wear because of its long and interesting history.  It was originally a jacket that belonged to her uncle who lives in Iran. Many years ago, he brought the jacket with him on his first visit to the U.S. Later, her aunt wore it as a cleaning uniform. Saraley eventually acquired it—and it was transformed into a vest.


The now venerated vest is pinned with memorabilia from her life’s events and meaningful gifts from friends. A dog tag and collar.  A face carved from bone. Although every pinned object has a story behind it, Saraley wants the stories to remain untold—for now—believing that mystery is best, because it gives viewers the freedom to imagine their own stories.


I could have painted this first portrait of Saraley without her sunglasses, but I felt the blue and the reflected sunlight on her lenses added visual interest. And, of course, I focused on her very direct gaze. My artist friends and I think that she has a look that is measured. Perhaps even a bit wary or challenging? But that is our interpretation. What do you see?


I don’t know how long Saraley will continue her sojourn in California. But one day Saraley will explore our world. May she have a safe, enlightening, and a most wondrous Wanderjahr …

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“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” —Lao Tzu

copyright ©  2014–2019  by Norman Guy. All rights reserved.