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Resting in her private boudoir is the star of tonight's lavish affair, the exquisite Tammy. After you've made your introductions, please keep the meet-and-greet line moving to the velvet room where fine French Champagne is being served. In other words, ya ain't gotta go home, but ya gotta get the heck out of our diva's private chambers.

Under most circumstances a woman is not going to have a come-hither smile on her face when a man with a mask enters her room, as he's apt to be an unsolicited kissing bandit or simply a bandit. In this case, the mysterious man behind the Mardi Gras mask happens to be Tammy's beloved husband Derrick. As a matter of fact, our shapely chanteuse would not be with us now if it hadn't been for the thoughtfulness and generosity of the dude hiding in the shadows holding the rose, as this portrait was his birthday present for Tammy.

When writing these Toil Girl pages, I find it imperative to fact-check my info with the people I'm writing about. Imagine my surprise when I asked Derrick to share a couple words about the conception of Tammy's portrait and instead I get this heartfelt, flattering and eloquent response. Since it was apparent I couldn't improve on his sentiments, I figured I might as well not even try.

My wife once gave me a very unique gift and I have spent years trying to find her a gift that had the same uniqueness. A portrait is one thing, but having someone capture the essence of a person is another. After seeing the picture you created of Camryn Manhiem I thought I finally found someone capable of doing so. The problem came in when I didn't have a concept that I thought communicate my idea of beauty. Weeks passed with me thinking of a way to capture what I saw when I looked at Tammy.


The solution came when I took her to see her favorite movie, The Phantom of The Opera. After the movie we talked about how fun it would be to go to a masquerade party and I thought that would be the perfect concept to embody her beauty and my love for her.


I went to your website to get the details on how to get the process started and was horrified to learn you were not accepting commissions at the time. Throwing a little caution to the wind I figured the worst that could happen is you would say you couldn't do it because of other obligations. Thankfully, I got the email reply that you happened to have a bit of spare time to take on the project and that you were almost as excited about the concept as I was. The rest as they say is history. This one-of-a-kind creation turned out to be the most incredible birthday gift ever.

Would it be far-fetched to assume every woman in the house is either fanning themselves off or wiping away a tear because of Derrick's sincere display of devotion for his lovely wife Tammy? Hell, even a stoic dude like myself has to acknowledge a good stand-up fellow when I read one, and Derrick has proven to be no chopped liver. Not just based upon those endearing words he sent me, but his integrity shined like a midnight star when conveying to me how perfect he wanted Tammy's portrait to turn out. Right off the bat I realized this present was coming straight from the bottom of his heart, so how could the Les Man not put his all into such a statement of love? And geez, how flattering is that to be told my art was that perfect gift he had been searching years for?

Not much I can say on a technical level about this piece, other than the fact I had a great time scouring many, many old books on vintage French deco to find just the right rug, mirror, table, wall paper and chez lounge. I was also fortunate enough to be given ample reference material of Miss Tammy from husband Derrick, so all I had to do was fiddle around with different angles and poses based upon the distinct concept Derrick had in mind. And rendering all the ornate detail was just a labor of love.

To Tammy, I have to thank you for loving The Phantom of The Opera as much as you obviously do because if your favorite movie was Night of The Living Dead, then, well, we'd have some problems. And to Derrick, thanks for being not only a classy gentleman, but also for being such a competent art director on this piece (if memory serves me, I think he actually sent me a little doodle drawing showing how he envisioned his placement in the art. My original sketch did a horrible job of incorporating Derrick in the portrait).


And a final thanks to both of you for being such good-looking additions to my glamourous gallery.



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