Tuesday, February 15, 2011



You know a good thing when you see it as an artist -as sure as a glass of sparkling Veuve Cliquot champagne (my favorite) is always good. When you can get it!

I knew Mrs. Jolene McBee would be a fantastic sitter to paint for my FACE OF VENTURA portrait project with The Ventura Breeze

I had sat and watched her, eggs over easy stalker-style, at the coffee shop she owns knowing that I HAD to paint her but would she do it? Even my husband said munching his hash browns: "Now there is a face you should paint."

Well, myself and Sheldon Brown, publisher of The Ventura Breeze, which is hosting this project and then some, decided to have breakfast at The Vagabond Coffee shop and use our mutual charms to persuade her. We just had to make it happen.

I have to say, this lady was among the most gracious I have ever met. She was a joy to a paint and spend two hours with. I found a new friend in Jolene and am reminded why I love to be a portrait artist. Thank you Jolene. See ya at breakfast, hold the champagne. DRATS.

My name is Jolene McBee

I am the owner and operator of

The Vagabond Restaurant located on


I came to Ventura in December of

1971 and absolutely fell in love with

this most beautiful city. I started working

as waitress at the Vagabond Restaurant

in February 1975. I was hired

as temporary help until such time as

the manager, Mr. Mac McBee, could

hire someone full

time. As it turned

out, he never

hired anyone to

take my place. I

loved the work

and the place

and Mr. McBee

seemed happy

with me. So happy

in fact that

we were married

four years later in 1979. And I never left

the business. My husband and I bought

the restaurant from the original owner

in 1985 and then it really became our

life and our love.

We have raised our children, grandchildren,

and now great-grandchildren

in this most wonderful, homey and

comfortable place full of love, laughter,

and so many, many, cherished memories.

After my husband passed away in

2003, I met with all my employees and

we all agreed to stick together and to

carry on the business just as Mac had

done all those years before. We became

even more determined than ever to do

the best we could with the legacy he had

left us. I think he would be proud of all

of us.

My passions include spending time

at the restaurant with my family, my

employees, my friends and customers

and especially with my 2 1/2 year

old great-grandson, Zack. I never have

enough time with him.

We asked her what she likes most about living

in Ventura?

The things I love about living in

Ventura are absolutely too many to

mention here. I love the fact that Ventura

has a “small town feel”. The people

here are some of the most warm, caring,

loving people that I have ever met. I am

originally from Texas and I know about

Southern hospitality

and I can

tell you that the

citizens of Ventura

(and Ventura

County) show

just about as

much hospitality

and friendship

towards others

as anybody in

Texas. Of course,

the climate, the beach, the ocean, the

mountains, are probably the biggest

draw for most people, but ,as for me,...

it’s the PEOPLE.

And how was the experience of having your

portrait painted by Johanna?

I have never in my life sat for a professional

photographer or had a portrait

done of me. When Johanna and Sheldon

first approached me to sit for her, I

really thought she was joking. I couldn’t

believe that anyone would want to paint

me. When she explained her project to

me, and I really understood what she

wanted, I was surprised and felt very

honored that she had asked me.

My time with Johanna was fun

and entertaining and something I may

never experience again and I am so glad

to have had the opportunity to get to

know her and witness what a wonderful

person and extremely talented artist she is.

Gracious thanks to The Ventura Breeze and especially publisher Sheldon Brown. To read full article and The Breeze go here:


LindaHunt said...

Beautiful portrait and such an interesting story!
I have begun my daily drawing thanks to you...and am I ever Thanks!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

thank you Linda...thrilled I helped you get to the daily drawing...wonderful news!

Marian Fortunati said...

I find it amazing that anyone can paint such a fabulous portrait in only 2 hours!! ... and while talking too!!

Love this one!!

Kati Brown said...

This is absolutely beatiful! Jolene is my grandmother and I can't believe how well you captured her beauty. She's always had a certain glow and this definately shows that. I'm in awe.