Thursday, February 6, 2014

On Pregnancy and Beauty

Well, January just flew by! I started writing this blog post a couple of weeks ago, but the bump has grown considerably since then. Wow. Thankfully, my time has been anything but wasted. I taught many private painting classes and day workshops in January, and started half a dozen new and exciting painting projects. I'm so grateful to feel motivated again, and even more grateful to have the energy to act on that motivation.

I posted this painting on Facebook shortly after completing it, but wanted to write a little more about how it came to be. I had been planning on doing a couple of self portraits while pregnant, but wasn't really sure how to pull them off, especially during the times when I was feeling more apprehensive and scared than excited.

I used the creation of this painting to help sort through the emotions and fears, while trying to remain true to a position I've always held as a painter that beauty is not subjective - it is inherent in certain things and always has been. Many in the art world will scoff at what I'm saying and completely disagree, but this is where I stand on it, and so I attempt, in my work, to present things of beauty. In the past I have explored the idea of woman's insecurity over her inherent beauty, but I've typically remained an outside observer and kept my feelings about my own beauty out of the equation. Women are beautiful. They simply are. And there is never a time that Woman is more beautiful than when she's pregnant and, as a friend so eloquently put it, bringing another soul into the world the only way a soul can enter.

Yet I myself, now at 26 weeks, still fight against the overwhelming lies that pregnancy is not beautiful, sexy, or desirable. I still have battles in my head when I look in the mirror or see the numbers on the scale begin to sky rocket. I struggle to believe that this baby belly and overall changing body are good things.

So, I have confronted these insecurities in my latest self portrait. I painted what I saw and tried to convey the changes honestly. In the past, I wasn't always entirely truthful in my self portraits. Maybe I did tuck in the waist a little, make the chin a little smaller, tone those arms just a bit. Perhaps this portrait, for the first time, is a true representation of me. I am laying out my flaws and my strengths (I hope!) - along with presenting to you the first "portrait" of this child who will someday change the world in his or her own way.

"Self Portrait at 23 Weeks Pregnant" - 17x11" - oil on linen

I realize, any time I put a painting out there for the world to see, I am taking a risk and opening myself up to criticism. But I hope that no one criticizes the "imperfections" or "flaws" that are unique to the subjects of my paintings. Criticize my composition, my brushwork, my color choices or technique - whatever you want, but don't criticize the person in the painting. All people are beautiful, because they are made in God's image. This is the very thing that compels me to paint them, and hopefully what draws you to my work.

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