From time to time I am asked whether or not I tire of painting about mothers and children. The truth is, I never do. There are so many emotions and situations worthy of being captured. I see moms and children and I think “I remember doing that…” or “been there, done that!”, or even “Geez lady, choose your battles”. I could paint mothers and children forever and never get bored. The thing is, some of the best shots can’t be staged, which is why I am seldom without my camera.
Kelly and Son is idyllic. They are not aware of us. They are frozen in time in a quiet, lush and sunny place. Their attention is on the bowl of fruit. We on the other hand are definitely the voyeurs.
Mother and Baby is different. This mother is engaging with us, smiling for us. She is showing off her prize. Her baby who is too young to engage us is comforted by the mother’s touch.
This latest painting of mother and child is one I really like. You might imagine that I like it because it’s the newest, and there could be some truth in that, but I love it for entirely different reasons. I especially like it because it is not about a beautiful baby. Number one, we can’t see his face. We can tell that he is sleeping heavily. My mother used to refer to this kind of sleep as “the sleep of the dead”, when every muscle is relaxed and sleep is as deep as is possible. I’m not even altogether sure why I’m refering to the child as a he, but I am confident it is a boy somehow.
This story is about the mother. I suspect she is tired and perhaps her arms are too. I choose to call it “The Weight of This Child”. I can feel how heavy he is. She may have been standing there a long time waiting. I wonder if she waits for her ride to come, I don’t know, but I suspect there is much more to this story. I feel very empathetic towards her. I thought about her while I was painting the picture. I notice that when I am painting I think about the people and their lives. I love this kind of image because it asks more questions than it answers. That makes me look longer, look harder, look not just to see but to try to understand. With this kind of image I look with more of my self. Each time I come back to it I hope to find answers about her, and of course I never will. “The Weight of This Child” has changed the course of her life. She waits with the weight of this child.