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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6 comments:

  1. this is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful painting!!!!

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    1. Well thank you, Myra! I'm glad you think so! :-)

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  2. Just a thought: time is never wasted when growing or nurturing a human being. :) But I understand that panicky feeling all too well, of a day gone by without significant artistic progress, career progress, or even just enough practice to maintain the status quo. It can feel like time is wasted, but remember you're engaged in the ultimate creative process right now, working on the masterpiece of a lifetime! I have to remind myself of that often. ;)
    ~Kristen J.

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    1. I agree with you, Kristen - growing a baby is not a waste of time... but I've never been one to be idle, so the first trimester was REALLY hard for me. I'm just glad to be working again, because I do feel much more fulfilled and happy when I'm painting, and I don't think that will ever change. You probably get the itch if you haven't played piano in a while, so I know you understand. :-) Also, I'm not sure I buy into the idea that my children will be my greatest masterpiece. I really think of myself more as their steward - carrying and caring for them until they are ready to make masterpieces of their lives for themselves. :-)

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  3. Awesome Collection..and I too Agree at this moment a women looks more beautiful..

    Nice Post..Keep Sharing

    Art Gallery in Jaipur


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  4. "All people are beautiful, because they are made in God's image."

    This is exactly why I love portrait painting! Well said, Anna. And a lovely self portrait! What a beautiful and challenging way to commemorate this special time. And no matter how you are feeling about body or self-image, it is such a special time that I hope you continue to cherish and enjoy! As soon as you meet that little person you've been carrying, the changes in your body will all be worthwhile. And I like your comment about stewarding children as well: the parent/child relationship is very important, but not necessarily all-encompassing. Thanks for that reminder... perhaps worth another blog post. ;)

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