"The Miracle of Love"
Before you were conceived I wanted you
Before you were born I loved you
Before you were an hour old I would die for you
This is the miracle of love.
Author: Maureen Hawkins
How does one capture the anticipation? A mother feels her baby's movement, hears her baby's heartbeat, and counts down the weeks and days till she finally gets to meet this little person face to face. Meanwhile, there is a whole myriad of thoughts and emotions a pregnant woman addresses on a daily basis. What will my baby look like? Will he or she be smart, healthy, happy? Will I be fully able to love and care for this child? What if I'm not a very good mom? What if...? And on it goes.
"The Wait and the Reward" - 30x30" - oil on linen
Well, baby Cecelia arrived in early May, and she has been the sunshine of my life ever since. I could finish the portrait knowing that I had truly received my reward for 9 months of waiting and making my body a temple for growing this sweet little girl. The concept seemed to work really well, and I enjoy the fact that it takes a moment of looking before you realize what's going on in the painting.
From a technical standpoint, this piece is not alla prima, since it took several months to complete. Aside from the small oil sketches of my daughter (see this post), alla prima painting simply hasn't been practical when there's only an hour or two each day to paint now that I'm a mommy. However, it has been nice to get back to my classical roots with some more detailed, layered works in which I can explore greater textural experiments and more subtle value shifts. These types of paintings are easier to work on for shorter periods at a time. I still want to maintain a feeling of freshness in my paintings, so that they don't end up looking overworked. But occasionally I'll go back and do more than one pass on different areas of the piece, which makes for a more refined look than the spontaneous brushwork associated with alla prima painting. Of course, some areas needed to be finished in one pass to pull off the look I want, such as the dark wood dresser. I wanted it to look transparent, so I used a single thin coat of transparent oxide brown, mixing it with ultramarine blue for the darkest areas. Other places, such as the lavender gown over the skin, had to be painted in thin layers to pull off that particular type of transparency.
Some interesting details about this piece: the little peek-a-boo bear was my husband's when he was a baby. The painting in the background reflection is a still life I did while my husband and I were on our honeymoon. As far as the books in the left hand corner, I didn't include any titles in the painting, but most of them are art books, still sitting on my dresser and night stand, with an occasional parenting book mixed in. :-)