Waiting, like painting, takes patience. Yesterday I received a question I get frequently and it pertained to the painting I’ll be featuring in this week’s blog. Admittedly, I haven’t always felt happy about answering this question. But I think, because people are so curious about the creative process, I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about it.
So what’s the question, you may ask? “How long did it take you to paint this?”
My answer is straight forward, “I don’t know.” That’s right, I really am not sure. Typically, in my studio, I find myself working on at least, 3-5 paintings at a time!
In fact, people ask me this question so many times, that I am beginning to wonder myself. “How long did it take me???” Here are a few tracking dates for this surprise painting that I did for my granddaughter Brittany and her husband Steve on the arrival of their first baby Mackenzie (a girl). She is my late husband’s first great grand baby.
Mackenzie was born January 25, 2019. I saw this photo on their Facebook page and absolutely knew I had to paint it. The photo looked like a modern day Madonna and child composition to me. So, I started playing around with it in early February. What that means is, I was working out the idea of what kind of medium (oil, pastel, acrylic) I wanted to use, how big the canvas should be, the type of technique I wanted to use as I painted, etc. Here is the original image, which I downloaded on February 1st.
At some point, I started sketching it on the canvas and painting in the first layers of paint. (Yes, I know, I really should learn how to date stamp my photos with my camera.)
I worked on the painting steadily, every week for several months, making progress.
The technique I had chosen to use was an old master’s technique of thin glazes, a very arduous painting process. I wanted the skin on both of them to be very transparent, soft to the touch, so to speak. But at some point, I just stopped. When that was, I’m not sure. But I felt that I just couldn’t go on, yet the same time I wanted to finish. I think of this time as the growth, pregnancy process, the painting is big inside me, I want it out, but it’s not done and it’s not time! Oh, the challenge of waiting.
The painting felt ugly, I wasn’t sure about it. It just sat on my studio easel for months, yes, months. Then one day in early June, I just picked up my brush and started painting again, till I finished. The waiting was over.
On July 11th, I excitedly presented the surprise painting to Brittany, Steve and Baby Mackenzie, all three were excited!!
I found out that evening that Brittany had taken the picture just a day or so after giving birth, when she wasn’t feeling all that lovely (yes, the ugly stage after giving birth). She just decided to snap a selfie—WOW, and what a selfie it was. It will make a wonderful story for Mackenzie when the painting is finally passed on to her.
Sometimes life gets made “in the waiting” and it reminds me that we all need to take courage during those ugly stages during our life. Perhaps this song will speak to you.