Monday, November 3, 2014

New Self Portrait - Proverbs 31:17

My newest self portrait, "Proverbs 31:17 (Self Portrait at 29)," is the inevitable sequel (one of many, no doubt) to "The Wait and the Reward." Like "The Wait," it was a painting that required great patience and even physical endurance. Because of Cecelia's nap schedule, my limited studio lighting, and other responsibilities that took me away from the easel, I only had a few golden moments throughout the day to work on it. It took several weeks to complete. Cecelia is about 5 1/2 months old in this painting, and quite the wiggle worm. Somehow I managed to do most of the painting from life, in a mirror, with a couple of photo references for getting Cece's exact likeness and pose.


This piece is an attempt to convey my sometimes obsessive drive to "do it all." I have a burning desire to be both a great mom and artist. But those are both incredibly draining and time-consuming jobs that demand one's full concentration and effort.


The expressions in my self portraits tend to "just happen". I never overtly choose them; instead, they evolve with the painting.  Most often I end up looking proud and confident, with just a hint of fear and vulnerability (the side of me I try to hide). It's the closest you'll get to a real look at the tumultuous conversations I have inside my head. I might have a dozen different expressions throughout the painting's progress, but ultimately, I must land on one of them.

Or... maybe I don't have to land on one expression. Maybe the final result is a combination of several faces. Maybe that's what makes painting from life so exciting. It's not a snapshot or a single moment. Instead, it's an idea or series of moments which evolve over hours and days. Maybe the expression is supposed to be multi-faceted because really, whether it's a self portrait or a painting of a model, the subject experiences countless thoughts and emotions throughout the sitting.

I'm too busy being a mom to dwell on how I want myself to be conveyed anymore. While I still try to wear nicer clothes (i.e., NOT pajamas) and put on some makeup every day, you can tell that I am tired. However, I chose Proverbs 31:17 for the title because I believe that we mothers are given an extra measure of grace and strength to carry out our tasks.

"She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." (Prov. 31:17, NIV)

Cecelia is in the spotlight now (literally), as I and my paintings fade into the background. I illustrate this with the use of duller color, darker values, and less contrast, everywhere except on Cece and the arm that's holding her. I love putting her before myself. I love her more than my paintings. But if I can have both her and my art... well, then I am one happy mama.


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