Saturday, June 14, 2014

New Self Portrait - "The Wait and the Reward"

"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

When I first came up with this idea for a maternity self portrait, I didn't realize how difficult it would be to pull off. In many ways, the patience it took to conceive and execute the painting was a direct reflection of the patience it took to get through pregnancy. Not only did I have to wait to start the portrait until I was "big" enough to look REALLY pregnant, but I had to wait until after my daughter's arrival to complete it. The entire project was a test in skill and patience, two things that every artist spends their lifetime trying to perfect.

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.

Detail shots:

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. :-)


  1. Anna, This beautiful concept is inspired and so thoughtfully executed! I know everyone who sees it will fall in love with it! Thank you so much for sharing so much of your journey with all of us! It has been touching and inspirational as well as informative! Can't wait to see that little movie star in person!
    Dorothy Woolbright

  2. Wow what for a amazing drawing, this is really awesome!
    Greetings from switzerland

  3. Totally over the top stunning ! And congratulations with the little girl, the biggest joy ever !

  4. Do you make prints of your pieces? I am a midwife and would love to have a beautiful painting like this in my office. It is truly stunning! You can get my contact info from Thank you!

    1. Thank you for your comment! Yes, prints of this piece are available here:

  5. You are beautiful and so is the portrait and your daughter! This is just stunning and captures it all so well. Loved your word s as well. You are Very talented!! thanks for sharing

  6. I posted your website, painting, and the sale site on my FB page. I hope that is all right to do. I LOVE this piece!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...