How do you approach a painting? Philip asks while is posing for her in his boxer shorts. I don’t mean a portrait.

That’s obvious.

Do you know what the painting will look like when you finish it? he continues. I am interested in the process—how people create. How it applies to mathematicians as well.

I start with a line, a color, and then I look for something else—it’s hard to describe exactly, Nina answers.

Is it random? Do you just stumble accidentally on whatever it is?

Sometimes. But no, not always.

Stand still, she also tells him.

She is painting his long legs, exaggerating how thin and long they are, like a Giacometti sculpture, making the lump larger in the left one.

I read somewhere that art is about navigating the space between what you know and what you see, Philip says.

I look for clarity, Nina tells him.

– excerpted from I Married You for Happiness, by Lily Tuck

pamelaPamela (Pamela in Blue), 1976
© Alex Katz