Saturday, September 11, 2021

New Painting: "A Child Will Lead Them"

I've already posted this new painting on social media but in today's post, I'd like to share a bit more the story behind it and also some of my painting progress shots. 

While my son finally got into a full-time daycare this past April, I had my 7-year-old daughter home with me all summer. My ongoing struggle always seems to be how to balance motherhood with doing what I’m most passionate about: painting. If you’re the type who believes art isn’t necessary, then it’s easy to write off my struggle as ridiculous: of course family and home should come first. Why are you still painting at all?? But if you’re like me and art is as necessary as oxygen… then you know the struggle is real. 

This summer, I started taking Cecelia along for more and more of my painting excursions. I thought it would be hard to let go of what I always considered to be "me" time, but it turns out, she's an excellent companion, she's always up for anything, and most importantly--she still thinks I'm cool! She is also quite the budding artist and I'm proud to say that the passion I've always had for painting, combined with a strong work ethic, is starting to manifest itself in my daughter. This makes it all SO worth it!

Aside from the struggle of balance, there have also been many times where I’ve experienced self doubt, frustration, and a sense of not knowing where I’m supposed to be going with my art. I’ve found over the years that I’m not alone in this; as I’ve shared conversations with other artists, it turns out, it’s pretty common amongst us all. And it turns out: this is actually a good thing. These feelings of being stuck, lacking identity, and being frustrated with where we are, almost always lead to a breakthrough of some kind. I talk about that more in this post from January of this year.

This spring I spent three solid months painting florals. I've never been satisfied with my skill level in that department and felt determined to improve. I did get better in those three months--enough to where I even made a new instructional video about it on .

But that still wasn't enough. They were "just" flower paintings. Time to dig deeper.

So I took an idea that's been sitting on the back burner of my mind for many years now, and decided it was time to make it come to life, using my little girl who has kept me company all summer long, as the muse. 

"A Child Will Lead Them" - 20x40" - oil on linen

When I began this painting my objective was to create a “lion and lamb” themed artwork that had never been done in quite this way before. Originally it was just the little girl and the lion, but it evolved into so much more as I added in stuffed animals along with the wild, jungle-like surroundings (the tiger has showed up in some of my portraits of Cecelia -- it is her favorite "stuffy"). One could interpret this piece in many different ways. On the surface it appears to be a contemporary interpretation of the passage from Isaiah 11, or it could be Lucy and Aslan from C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia", but on another level, it becomes more about the challenges that a young child faces as she transitions into adulthood. My daughter's intensity has always struck me and I know she will be a world-changer. Here, she faces the viewer undaunted, almost daring us to bring it on, and while the remnants of childhood lay cast aside, she embraces the strength of the lion and looks ahead with courage rather than fear. 

I'm hoping to venture more in this direction. 

Meanwhile, here are some of my process shots:

Above: I began with a general block-in, exaggerating some of the colors to create some nice base tones for subsequent layers. I wanted the foliage and background to be at a strong diagional relative to the straightness of the resting lion. This would also add a feeling of motion and energy, to uphold the motion of my daughter's pose, where she looks like she could pounce right at the viewer.

I wasn't crazy about the blue sky, so I covered it over with a coat of yellow, and some pink towards the bottom. I used a palette knife to load on the paint in these passages. I then started refining the lion and the girl with more realistic colors and lots of texture in the lion's mane.

I arranged the stuffed animals in the painting by taking pictures of them at various angles and moving them around the composition in Photoshop. This was also helpful in allowing me to lighten or darken values so that each stuffed animal didn't stand out too much. I wanted them to blend in a bit with their surroundings so as not to distract from the focal point (my daughter's face and the lion behind her). At one point I had a little blue rabbit in there (above), but that ended up on the chopping block (sorry not sorry).

Here's the final painting. I still wasn't convinced I liked the background so I spent a whole day completely repainting it, putting in simplified atmospheric mountain shapes instead. I liked that SO much better!

Here are some detail shots below. I hope you enjoy this painting. It is my daughter's (and my) new favorite!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...