As a story teller and symbolic painter, I often question whether a painting delivers the impact I am aiming for. Many pieces that are personal and close to my heart have not had the recognition in the competitive art world that I hoped for. Yet I am compelled to paint what has meaning for me, and not something that necessarily conforms to the more traditional water media expectations.
Recently, however, two very personal pieces did get accepted into shows, and I am happy that two jurors saw something special in these paintings.
"It's Me, Margaret" will be hanging at the WSO Fall show at the Mt. Hood Community College Visual Arts Gallery, Troutdale, OR. Paul Jackson is the Juror for this Exhibit. What did he see in this painting, I wonder. This is an image of my mother at 97 years old, just days away from death. I painted her skin so carefully, trying to capture all of her amazing 97 years with colors, wrinkles and gnarliness. . She wore her wedding ring until her last day on this planet. By placing her in a night sky, removed from all her earthly connections, I hoped to convey the idea of the great question we all face--what comes after this? If you are a reader, you may remember the young adult novel by Judy Bloom, "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret." I borrowed part of that title for this painting. And, yes, my mother's name was Margaret.
"Without Hair" was accepted by juror Iain Stewart for the Northwest Watercolor Society's Waterworks Exhibition in Bothell, WA. This painting came after spending months with my daughter as she underwent a stem cell treatment to halt the progression of Multiple Sclerosis. We had so many conversations about a woman's life without hair. Rachel was brave enough to be bald some days and other days she wrapped her head with colorful scarves or plopped on a jaunty cap. (That's another painting.) I asked her to write some of her thoughts about being a woman without hair. I placed those words around her silhouette. I placed a sunflower (her symbol) as an adornment to her head. As the petals fall, they turn into locks of cut hair at her feet. The scissors reflect that it was her choice to take the risk of this revolutionary treatment which caused the loss of her hair. She is brave and powerful and stands by herself.
Sometimes, painting from your heart is rewarded!