Sunday, November 29, 2020

Madonna and Child Painting on Copper

"Candle of JOY" - 12x12" - oil on Artefex copper panel
Luke 2:19 “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

Hello again, world... it's been a while. I have lots to write about, but for now I want to share a special painting of mine that is currently being auctioned off to raise funds for the Illuminated Messiah Bible, an outreach project by Tim Gagnon at Gagnon Atelier. Tim has interviewed me for his Modern Masters podcast a couple of times (here and here), and he is doing some really amazing things with his art and his ministry. So when he asked me if I'd be willing to participate in a fundraiser, to help get this brand new Bible printed and into the hands of lots of people around the world, I said YES!

The painting is one of four pieces created by myself and artists Michelle Dunaway, Joyful Enriquez, and Frank Ordaz, showcasing one of the four weekly themes of Advent. You can bid on these paintings for the chance to own the ORIGINAL by visiting the Gagnon Atelier Facebook page here.

Or, you can buy a limited edition giclee of my piece on my website here.  

As an artist whose journey into motherhood vastly transformed both me and my art, it seemed natural that I should choose “Mary the Mother of Jesus – the Candle of Joy” as the theme for my painting. Before becoming a mother, I couldn’t have comprehended what it meant for Mary to “keep these things, and ponder them in her heart.” But conceiving, growing, bearing, and nurturing a child awakens you to an entirely different kind of love, one so deep and so true that you want to hold on to it with every inch of your being and never let it go. Now I understand.

When I began this painting, I thought, “This will be easy. I’ll just use some pictures of myself and my son.” I had a specific reference photo in mind. There is dramatic sunlight on my son, sprawled out asleep on my lap, and I am gazing down lovingly at him.

However, as I began work on my painting, I found that God had other plans for it. Nothing seemed to be working. It was as though He was saying, “This is not about you. Leave yourself (literally) out of this. Let me guide the process.”

I went back to the drawing board. I sanded down the work I had done on the copper panel already, and the remnants of myself served as a base for me to start again.

I found some old reference photos from a special time long ago, before I was a mother, when a dear friend of mine had just had her first son. I had been commissioned to paint a breastfeeding mother, and my friend graciously agreed to model for me. That was the first time I realized that the idyllic scenes of Mother Mary, looking flawless and refreshed as she holds the Baby Jesus, are just not real. Motherhood is messy, exhausting, and hard especially where you’re brand new at it (and especially if you’ve just given birth in a stable)! Mary had never done this before; she would have had the same struggles that any new mother has: trying to interpret her infant’s cries, hunching over while she learns how to nurse him, tired eyes from the sleepless nights. And yet… the love, supernatural strength, and sudden knowing that are gifted a woman when she becomes a mother—would have been just as real as the hardships.

My painting of the Madonna and Child became a slight homage to the past in the sense that Mary wears her traditional blue, which symbolizes purity, and the Christ Child exudes an angelic glow. But the work also shows the reality of motherhood. She is in wonder of her Son’s face, but also a bit apprehensive. She cradles His head with the gentlest of hands, yet hunches just a bit because this is all so new to her. Her dress is loose and flowing to make room for Him to nurse whenever He needs to. It is relatable. And the joy and the sorrow are so intertwined that they are almost indistinguishable. We’ll never know the exact thoughts that Mary kept hidden so deep in her heart. But I suspect that many of us have an idea.

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