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STREISAND and ME!

As Barbra celebrates her 82nd birthday TODAY.. I thought I would say Happy birthday with my own meagre STREISAND story.

I’m sure you hear the same old information about how Barbra Streisand has influenced our lives over and over again.. so here’s another one!!

I was taken as a very young boy to see “Funny Girl’ by my mum in the late 1960’s..It was such an experience .. I couldn’t get it into my head how Barbra Streisand (who was a real person) was playing Fanny Brice (who was a real person) in a film.. it made no sense.. why didn’t they get the real one?… why did Barbra have to do it? I’m obviously glad they did, because I’ve been a big fan ever since.

I’ve generally seen and collected Barbra stuff all through my life.. I saw the Streisand costumes when they were in London , I have all the movies, concerts and movie posters etc ( I’d love to own more memorabilia.. but I do need to draw the line sometimes or I could go on for ever). I was amazed to have been able to see her in London in 1994 (unforgettable),. Then again in Brooklyn-2012 and AGAIN just 3 rows back from the front in Hyde Park 2019.

I do have my very own Streisand stalker story for you though..

I’m an Artist by trade and the very first painting I did when I was a child.. was of Barbra about to sing ‘My Man’ from Funny Girl.. I copied it from a Film Revue Annual. ( It was the first painting I did where people sat up and said, Wow!… he’s not bad ,It actually looks like her)  Moving on to 1999, I was looking to find an Art agent in London.. he said to get the book cover work I wanted, I had to paint some showy pieces, portraits etc.. I came out feeling a bit dejected thinking.. what shall I paint?, I went into a Newsagent and the first thing I saw was THAT picture of Barbra from Funny Girl staring out at me from the cover of a magazine (All About Barbra) I thought ‘that’s it!.. I’ll do the same painting now (all these years later ) and see if it’s still lucky for me. 

I started the painting in my studio (Bath), I got stuck and decided to have a break and walk into town.. ( I was getting scared of finishing it to be honest, in case it didn’t work!.) 

Bath then was loaded with antiques shops, It was a glorious sunny day, so after a brief wander I headed back to my studio.. passing these very Antique shops at the top of town, Suddenly a very tall, handsome, silver haired man emerged from a tiny little doorway… I looked at him and paused..  “I recognise you!” I thought, It was JAMES BROLIN!!.. as he moved forward, hidden behind him was a tiny woman.. she was wearing (as I recall) an off the shoulder pink sweater ,black slacks, round rose tinted glasses and a black beret.. It was BARBRA STREISAND! (I LITERALLY couldn’t breathe!) I walked past casually (there was no one else around at all) then panicked and thought.. I have to see some more, They crossed the road to an isolated Antiques shop on a corner. At this point I do have to tell you that I was not dressed subtly .. I was wearing baggy cream trousers and a striped sailor top, (no comment!), so I had doubled back, run through a little ally way and then I appeared (casually) in the shop (just after them).. panting a bit!

It was just James, Barbra, the store keeper and myself in the shop. I’m sure they thought.. “wasn’t that the SAILOR who just went past in the opposite direction?”

James was asking for directions to a shop at the bottom of town.. I was thinking.. “I know! I Know!” .. I made my way around the room, blindly looking at the products and made my way over to the glass cabinets which Barbra was looking in. I got next to her pretending to be interested in the items in the case ( I wasn’t!) . I then took an almighty ‘Sniff’ of air.. I was trying to actually ‘smell’ Barbra Streisand’..( I have to stress at this stage that I am NOT a pervert!!)..a strong beautiful scent of perfume filled my nostrils, I turned away and looked intently through a glass column display case.. then Barbra did the same.. she was looking in at one side where I was at the other.. I was looking straight at her – (Oh,GOD!!!!!). We all three left the shop together and stood on the kerb, .. My quandary was.. whether to offer my help and escort them to the shop at the bottom of town…or.. not. I know how celebrities (and Ms Streisand in particular) hate their private space being invaded.. I thought If she tells me to ‘bugger off’ i’ll be mortified .. I wanted my experience and my dream to remain intact.. so I quietly and sadly walked on. I told EVERYBODY (with such pride) that I had actually ‘sniffed’ Barbra Streisand .. There were lots of people who didn’t believe me until it turned out that the celebrities HAD visited exclusive antique places around the area (including Bath). They had stayed in a very high end establishment, but had left because they felt the staff had violated their privacy,. So I was vindicated (and relieved I hadn’t intruded).. It HAD happened!..I went back to my studio and finished that painting and it did get me noticed (to a point).. in fact it’s still in my folio today.

Since that date at the turn of this new century,. I have focussed my skill on painting in watercolour,. Chosen to paint PEOPLE that interest me, and that has obviously included numerous paintings of Barbra.. a selection of which I include here,. Most you will have seen them before I’m sure, I painted her last year and presented it on Face Book on her birthday,. Her great friend and collaborator saw it,. asked if he could show it to Barbra herself,. She loved it and as a result,. She now OWNS my PAINTING of her. What a thrill… after all of this, and all these years of painting her.

Matthew

Streisand
My painting from THAT day- Streisand 68′ by Matthew Haydn Jeanes