Sienna as Archer, oil on panel, 48" x 36", 2014
Life and art are inseparable for artists. Everything we do in our daily lives has the potential to become fodder for our work. And the work in turn, feeds our life with rich appreciation for the simple acts and moments that could otherwise be overlooked. Lately, I've noticed my children are growing like weeds right before my eyes. I can feel their youth slipping towards responsibility and seriousness. This has become particularly poignant for me with my daughter as she approaches her next birthday, which will place her firmly in the double digits club. There is a risk in painting children, maybe especially for women artists; artists who are mothers. So much of history has told us that this is a 'sentimental' act, and that that word itself is a dirty word which you wouldn't want associated with our serious work. But there is a bounty to explore in that moment of a child's life which is fixed between the abundance of imaginative play of youth and the growing pressures of age; right before the storm of adulthood. I am compelled to capture that mix of tides that I am living with, that I am responsible for raising well.
While my daughter posed for this painting over several sessions, I noticed a shift in her. When I first asked her to hold the bow, she pulled the string and it was... almost right - but there was an apologetic tone to her stance. Her feet were planted awkwardly near each other, her grip light and unsteady. I was asking my pink loving, pacifist daughter to hold a weapon - and this was not natural for her. It took much coaching, and honestly I think I had to make her mad at me, before she really took the pose with any believability. I think by then she wished I had loaded the bow with more than a suction cup toy arrow, because now she was happy to aim directly at me. The next time she took the pose, her elbow straightened a bit more, her wrist more naturally aligned with greater strength. And then as the painting developed and she got to see herself as this strong and cunning girl, I noticed she began to stand taller too. What I suddenly realized one day while standing infront of this life size painting of my daughter, is that this painting was helping me parent better. I was showing my daughter how to be empowered. How to embrace her inner strength and not be apologetic to share that with the world.
Life and art are inseparable.
And here is a picture and a related post of this same girl, just several years younger.