My mom died when I was 24, and my grandmother many years later. They had a relationship which I describe as complicated but they probably would not. There is something about this photo of them that is compelling to me. Maybe it is only that they were so distant from each other in my memory and here they are, in this photo, looking like they have an understanding of a kind and a relationship that is ordinary and maybe even real.
Here is the photo:
I can't believe how wonderful my mother looks. She has had at least 10 of her 11 children at this point. I know that sounds extreme and over the top and all that but it is true, a reality.
I am working on making a painting of this. Lately my work has been of landscapes and flowers this is so different but every so often I go back to 'the figure' or a "portrait".
We'll see where this goes. Once I post pre painting, it sometimes doesn't work out because I don't have enough privacy to complete the painting. Maybe it won't be like that this time because, I don't have to finish it, do I? I can just forget about it if it doesn't work out.
So, I thought I would post the next stage: I started the painting on a 12 x 9" Watercolour board in acrylic paint.
Here is the photo of where I got today. I wonder if I can keep up the tension and the loose way of working without it getting lost. We'll see, I have some day-job type stuff to do tomorrow so may not get back in here but I will try.
Yesterday I only got a couple of hours in the studio to work on this, so not much done. We'll see if I can get it to work to my satisfaction. Drawing and redrawing as I go. Excited and tense. While pushing through to something new.
Below is the next iteration of the above in progress painting. I went through the frustrating loss of things and gaining of things, and loss of things again, in the figure in the blue dress (my mom). I have spent a lot of time trying to bring the right gesture and expression to the head. It is not there yet.
The wall in back, ah heck, everything needs lots of work. This painting helps me see I have learned lots of things about process in my years of making art, what my friend Nomi calls the "experience of painting". That's what it's all about for me; what I learn while I paint, about myself, about painting, about materials, about why and what for.
Below is the 4th iteration of the painting. I've spent a lot of time on the figure in blue and need to move away from it for a while and bring up the rest of the painting. Back and forth, back and forth, until it's as good as I can make it. I am wanting, at this stage, to keep the drawing aspect in evidence in the end, but not sure that will work so am trying to keep an open mind.
I worked on the painting for a few hours yesterday. I have to stop after a couple of hours and take a break, or I find myself getting obsessive and tight, then I go back for a couple more hours. A lot of the work so far is about drawing and redrawing the figures in paint and just trying to get it right (according to my understanding).
6th installment of progress on this painting.
The photo below is closer to the right colour than above, above is warmer in colour than the real painting. At this point I'm feeling the pressure of posting as I'm trying to leave any imagined expectations out of the painting process. That isn't easy, but, it is interesting. If I can just work and ignore the voices in my head I will have developed just that little bit more.
I was getting stuck, overworking parts, not feeling the gesture so had to turn it to the wall for a couple of days.
There was nothing for it but to paint out the troubling part and start fresh.
After 2 more sessions I brought it back to here (below). I had to take time away from posting in order to not feel too much pressure to 'get it done' I'm looking at it at this stage to see what has to be done and what gives enough of the feeling I want without being tampered with. Tomorrow is another day, perhaps I'll be able to work on it perhaps not (office work, gardening job calling).
A likeness may be there (though we all see people differently so that may be only for me) but that is not the important thing for me (I know it is not just like the photo, I would have to be a camera for that to happen and I already have a photo. What I'm trying to make is a painting). I'm not trying to make a likeness. It comes as I work because of the way I'm working. What's important for me is that it feels right.
This is a tough one and I'm going to work on it till I think it's as good as I can make it (with all its flaws) and move on. Posting it here has been a great motivator to keep on trying with it. Thank you everybody who commented here and on facebook and to people who shared with their friends. Stay tuned for more painting drama, or, hopefully, not. Maybe it'll be a breeze from now on!
Below is the painting as of this morning. I worked on it for 2 afternoons since the last installment. Getting close.
And today I brought it to here (see below). I think it maybe as good as I can make it. I'll sleep on it but it seems to be done. I will let it go probably and start thinking about the next painting. I have loved working on it. I feel I learned so much doing it online like this. Now I will go back to my hidy hole for a while and come back with something else exciting (at least for me) sometime soon.
Tomorrow I will post it on my small works blog and my website if I still feel it is done.
Below is a slightly better photo of the painting. It's done, sold, wrapped and ready to go to one of my 4 sisters. Thanks Tish. And thanks everybody for all the feedback and sharing here and on facebook. I am happy to have had such lively interaction with friends, family and strangers while making this. I'm going to do at least one other version, and maybe even some drawings from this to see what I've learned in the process. To make more solid the understandings I've come to. I'll keep you posted in future blog entries.
Several people have expressed and interest in having this painting. Let me know if you want a hand painted version. Can't promise it will be exactly the same, but it will be made with love. That'll be another learning experience.