As the magnificent Alice Neel show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York comes to an end on August 1, I recall the experience of being painted by her.

A client was a major fan and supporter of Alice. He asked me to visit her and to commission a portrait. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but he asked and that was enough for me.

I visited Alice’s home and studio on 108th Street near West End Avenue. It was a large apartment with dozens of completed paintings stacked up against the walls. She looked liked everyone’s grandma: grey hair combed with a bun in the back, twinkly eyes and a big smile.

Among the paintings I could see were many nudes including quite a few of a young woman Alice told me was her daughter-in-law.

After some conversation and lots of laughs, Alice said, “Tom, you have beautiful blue eyes and a great smile, so I want you to smile for your portrait.”

“No, Alice,” I replied. “People lose their teeth and if this picture is going to last even after I have no teeth, that would be a shame.” (I still have them, the originals.)

“Ok,” she answered. “But I want you to wear some bright colors, maybe yellow.”

“No, Alice,” I said. “I want to wear a suit and tie; that stuff doesn’t go out of style while the bright yellow might.” Her response was a grudging, “Hmm…well, ok.”

We set the first date for my sitting.

I arrived, grey suit and patterned red tie in place.

“I think you ought to sit by the window where the light is. Sit on that secretary chair and adjust it to your height by turning the pipe up or down.”

I complied. My left thumb hooked naturally into the waist of my trousers while my left leg crossed to my right. “Stay just like that,” she directed. And she started to paint.

That day and on the days that followed, while I was being painted, Alice treated me to a running commentary that covered her love life, her children, the art scene, her anger at lack of recognition and many, many scary comments about how she planned to depict me.

Very uncharacteristically I said almost nothing. Looking back, I think it was fear that shut me up.

“You know what I’m going to do” she cackled. “I’m going to paint a big blue eye on your forehead!” “Please don’t,” I pleaded. And that was just one of her jesting threats. I didn’t believe her, but there was an outside chance. After all, I could tell that while she looked like grandma, she was actually a wild farrago of libertine, uniquely gifted artist, mom and political revolutionary.

When she was finished, she happily showed me the painting. “Look at that knee!” she called out.”Nobody can do a knee like that except me!” (All of the full- length portraits of clothed men in the Met show are posed with a crossed knee.)

Alice famously said, “I am a collector of souls…If I hadn’t been an artist, I could have been a psychiatrist.”

She was figuring me out the whole time. And she had the last word.

She painted a man attempting to look very serious and sitting up very straight with the assistance of a strategically placed pipe.

I am very proud to have been painted by Alice Neel.