Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Painting Little Hands

My almost-six-month-old, Cecelia, is as perfect as perfect can be, and when I paint her, I find myself grasping at that perfection, unattainable and just out of reach. But that is the joy and the challenge of painting, and that is why I decided to rework this little painting, "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep."


"Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" (original version) - 6x6" inches

At only 6 inches square, the piece was a response to some comments on an Instagram photo I posted several days ago. Cece was sound asleep in her car seat, on the way home from an art show. When we stopped for gas, the overhead lights at the gas station illuminated her face and hands perfectly. It was one of those moments I couldn't have reproduced in my studio if I tried.

The little painting was completed alla prima in one day, and when I posted it to Facebook, there was an overwhelmingly positive response. However, something about the hands just wasn't right. I knew when I "finished" it that if it bothered me, it might bother someone else, but I lazily concluded, "Eh, it's fine."

No, it's not.

Cecelia is perfect... and I ought to try my best to capture that perfection.

I decided to bite the bullet and rework those hands. They weren't bad... but they could be so much better. I could make the excuse that a baby's tiny hands are hard to paint (they are!), but excuses are just that - excuses!

I am so glad I changed it. I put Cece in her play gym next to my easel and observed her anatomy very carefully from life. I was able to rework the fingers so that the pinky finger overlapped her bottom ring finger (in the original version, it was the other way around). I also made her hand slightly smaller and brightened some of the highlights. It hurt to take down the painting and re-post the "new one," but I'm a happier artist and mama for it.

The moral of the story: a painting is never truly finished. If something still bothers you about it, FIX IT! Don't just let it slide. I am grateful to those who were kind enough to offer constructive criticism.. you know who you are. Here is the final work.


"Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" (FINAL VERSION) - 6x6" - oil


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