Jericho

The awakened heart is like a lantern.
Keep it sheltered
from the turbulence
of the winds of desire.
—RUMI

“Two people had a similar idea. That was all. And so, we both went searching. We were searching for something tangible that would bring an experience into our lives which somehow brought us together.”

Photos after the completion of ‘Ruby Magic’ by artist Francis O’Neill brings back memories for artists’ model Ruby Magic. “Honestly, looking back, there’s nothing I would change. It was my first time keeping still, without any clothes on, for a painter and at that time, no, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.”


Francis met Ruby after posting an online ad to find a model to begin working on a new portrait. In August 2011, Ruby began sitting for Francis at his studio in East Oxford where he painted his first portrait of Ruby.

”Here’s me now thinking to myself, so basically you were getting paid to meditate” [Ruby chuckles] OK yes, however that wasn’t something that I was aware of when we started on the painting. It suddenly clicked for me a few years later into art modelling. [softly smiles]

Francis helped me to look into my soul and discover what true self acceptance is. Being raised in a fearful environment, yes, played a huge role in my thinking. It was hard to accept who I am because I grew up watching my mother being afraid. Francis showed me that that was OK. Of course, my mother’s fear wasn’t her fault but the idea of me returning home from University definitely scared her. And so knowing that, like actually being told “you cannot come here” gave me this inner desire to seek for love outside of myself. So, I decided to accept the desire that I had and we created this painting.”


Francis began his nude oil painting of Ruby in November 2011, which he was able to complete in January 2012. ‘Ruby Magic’ was then preselected to be exhibited in National Portrait Gallery’s BP portrait award 2012.

“It was Francis who gave me the inspiration to pose for various artists. Art modelling was a way to escape from the pain and a place where I thought I belonged. Francis became more of a friend to me than anything else. Beyond the world of art modelling and the eccentric & chaotic life style that came with it [Ruby laughs-out-loud] my soul knew that everything was going to be OK. Eventually, I discovered that posing for Francis wasn’t about what it did for me, it was more about what brought us here on this journey. Still now, even to this day, whenever I am with him, Francis reminds me to be present. It’s awesome. My wall of Jericho came crumbling down and I broke free.”(1)

Francis continues to paint in London where he now resides. Please have a look at his latest art work here on Facebook.

Thank you!

04. February 2024 by Ruby Magic
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