People are interesting. Mr. Octave worked around our apartment building for almost full year before we started to talk. Until then, it was just nods and smiles and the occasional ‘hi’. Sometimes I can hear him whistling, from the outside of the building when I'm inside, and then I catch myself smiling about it. People that whistle are very interesting.
Then I thought that maybe I should get to know this guy. I offered him coffee when my wife and I were taking our coffee break from working. He would just smile and say thank you. Ever since the coffee invites, he would always greet me, wherever we’d meet: town, bus stop, on the way. English is his second language so, there’s that barrier. But still, I didn’t need words to tell me that Mr. Octave was humble, kind, hardworking, and with a face full of character. His red cap, his glasses and his wrinkles were fascinating to me. Perfect character for a portrait, was what I would be thinking whenever we crossed each other’s path and he’d smile to me with a greeting. And so I did.
I’ve noticed that people that are down-to-earth, like Mr. Octave, always react the same way when I hand them a portrait of them I’d done; they find it hard to believe that someone would be interested enough to do a portrait of them, they are grateful and in awe.
He came to me the day after with a pile of bananas he had collected for me from his property, as a gift in return. With the little English words he could think of, he told me how much his wife and kids loved the portrait I did. When someone gives back from the heart like that…some of the perks of being an artist. Unfortunately I went through those deliciously organic bananas (he planted and harvested them himself) faster than I could take a picture of them so I could share with you. But try to image a bunch of bananas given to you as a precious gift. They taste better than ones you can get from any market.