"Always"- Original watercolor painting
Sometimes I labor over paintings, sometimes they are offered as a gift out of nowhere. Many times the two happen simultaneously.
When I am doing a painting with a lot of left brain stuff, my subconscious sometimes goes into overdrive and I need an outlet for it, so a painting will many times just happen alongside the one I am "working" hard on. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes not, but they come from a different place, I guess.
Recently I was working on a commission which meant a lot to me and it was important that I get it right . As I was working on it, I came across a photo that just called to me to paint ! No waiting, I needed to do it. So I began painting this portrait of a mother nursing her baby as I was finishing up the commission.
The commission was of my cousin's beautiful son who suddenly passed away last month. I had recently seen a photo of he and his mama just after he was adopted, and she is talking to him and he is "talking" back with coos and smiles and the connection between the two is palpable. The look in her eyes holds the essence of a mother's soft, tired, beautiful and incomparable love for her baby. A love that takes up permanent residence in a mom's heart until she takes her last breath.
That eternal moment between mother and child, and all the ways that these moments shape us into the human beings we will become, teaching us how to interact with and love others, was in the back of my mind while I painted this piece alongside the commission. How the connections between us teach us not only of maternal or familial love, but also about our place here, our place among the humanity that surrounds us. A parent's love is a true reflection and taste of God's eternal and intimate love for us. My painting is an abstraction of that concept - painted with shapes and values and colors that organically come together in the form of two human beings in life giving connection.
As I think about the concept of how essential touch is to us all, I wonder about our present world of isolation, fear and social distancing. I think we all become a little less human without the ability to smile or see a smile under a mask. Without the ability to reach out our hand to a friend. All of the subtleties of communication swept up into the vacuum of a worldwide pandemic.
We all have a responsibility to be gentle and caring with one another, using whatever means we have to love and lift one another and give respite in these exhausting, difficult times, until we can embrace and gather together, connecting with our friends and family again through the warm skin of our hands, cheeks, bear hugs, and kisses.
Until then, I hope you are well and know you are loved and my prayer is that during these times, as we have experienced love and healing and hope from others , we return it out into the world tenfold. A beautiful and strong fabric of humanity.
With love and gratitude- Gretchen