Mother's Day- Artist as Mom
(In a nod to Mother's Day, this is a repost of a previous writing. To bring you up to date, my daughter is now going to be 23 in a couple of weeks and preparing to go off to Thailand with her boyfriend for a summer of teaching English and adventure. I'm so proud of her and her fearless spirit and miss her terribly at the same time....)
My life is never seperated from my work and I have created a plethora of paintings around mothering as I journey along in one of the greatest adventures of my life. I thought I would continue with this subject in this month when mothers are celebrated.
Most of my paintings come from a very personal place. Even some of my cow paintings tell stories about what's going on in my life, such as in "Eat Your Broccoli" which depicts a momma cow and her calf in a surreal field of raining broccoli. (A nod to Magritte) This painting was inspired by my Kayla who wouldn't eat broccoli as a little girl.
Before I even knew I was pregnant, I painted "My neighborhood", which depicts myself, my husband (in between the two houses) and our neighbors on their respective porches. There I am talking on the porch, very preggers, while my husband looks on.
When I was actually pregnant, I painted this one, "Pregnant Artist." I have to laugh when I recall my pre-teen girl begging me to take it off the wall so her friends wouldn't see it. So much for being sophistcated about a little artistic nudity even though I tried to not actually show much :0) Note the Van Gogh calendar in the background and the rooster in the window. Van Gogh is my favorite and the rooster is symbolic of my husband whose last name in German means "rooster".
Sometimes I run into women who tell me that they were artists until their kids were born and then they stopped. I would just as much have stopped breathing. I don't know how they could do that, maybe they were less driven than me, but I never stopped. It helped that she was such a good, easy baby. I used to get up around 4:30 in the morning before she woke so I could paint a little, or sometimes she would sit and watch me in her little bouncy chair. At 19 months, she had her own plastic easel, paint and tam. She too created very colorful works, though she was an abstract expressionist at that time :0)..
As wonderful a baby as she was, just the shock of becoming parents can be overwhelming. The shift that takes place in your life from self centered to other-centered, and the responsibility of it all is all encompassing. I have depicted these feelings in the painting "New Baby", where the beautiful little diapered one is a giant in the space, overtaking the picture and the lives of the Mommy whom she holds in the palm of her hand and her Daddy by a string.
Having a child also was bringing up a lot of stuff for me as she grew. It was like she was holding up a mirror that reflected my life, causing me to worry and wonder about if I could make her life bettter than my upbringing had been. In this painting "Toddler" she is a hybrid of herself and me. She stands, again overwhelming the picture, but she is standing off the curb in a street between two houses, representative of the New Jersey street where I grew up. (Boy, did I have fun painting that bunny)
I painted her many more times as she has grown up, less as she approached her pre- teen and teen years when I could barely get her to be near me or smile, until this one (Flying through Life) which I painted last year, when she was leaving to go to college. It was so hard to let her go and I couldn't believe that that she was leaving already.
She and I are depicted flying through the air in our matching Mommy-Daughter dresses that I had made, through a world of things that I had taught her about or that we had discovered together.
As I write this I am tearing up again......I know there are plenty more paintings to paint and the journey with her is not over. I just miss my baby.