Dana's Tutrle in Progress (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Dana's Tutrle in Progress (c) Marika Reinke 2015

Dana’s Turtle: A Mother Daughter Dance

Dana's Tutrle in Progress (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Dana’s Tutrle in Progress (c) Marika Reinke 2015

It is interesting to me how the practice of art is a melding of personalities and roles.  The artist is the giver and the receiver is the subject or client or both.  But somewhere in this process, I feel I’m gaining a very precious gift and our roles are reversed.  I am grateful.

My daughter wants me to paint her turtle drawing (this is absolutely necessary since I finished Daire’s Dragon).

Daire's Dragon (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Daire’s Dragon (c) Marika Reinke 2015

Daire’s dragon in many ways reflects him. It is all energy, desire and a frenetic wanting of everything without compromise.  My son is 5, almost 6.

This turtle is calmer and more grounded, like my daughter. We saw baby turtles in Mexico this winter and large green turtles laying eggs in Costa Rica a couple years ago.  It was magical, of the real life kind, both experiences were awe-inspiring.  Unlike a dragon, turtles are a real life story. She draws what she sees and learns, she is very scientific and loves the natural world.

Dana's Tutrle in Progress (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Dana’s Tutrle in Progress (c) Marika Reinke 2015

When she saw my progress, she was clear she wants more stimulating colors like the dragon – a golden head for example. This surprised me a little.  She wants, in many ways, more of me in the painting. She also expressed the knowledge that I was only just beginning, and had confidence the end would be a lot different.  She pays attention that way.  

What I’m noticing is that through art, the giver and receiver express their relationship and that relationship matures in the process. It is very intimate and so wonderfully human.

I feel this in all the paintings I have done for others, but witnessing it being expressed from my daughters point of view is very touching and expanding. She is 8 almost 9, and really defining herself as a person. In doing so she is also defining me as her mother. She is making sense of me.

And this is in part what this painting is about, a mother making sense of her daughter and her daughter doing it right back.

Something we will do for the rest of our lives I suspect.  I am grateful for it.


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  1. Wow. What a thoughtful, introspective post. Looking forward to see your painting (and your family) progress. I listen to your words from the other side, as an empty nester. So they’re quite poignant, from my perspective. Sounds like your kids are very cool, just like you!

  2. I am so impressed that you are bringing your daughter’s drawing to life. My son (9), an artist himself, is always saying to me, “You should paint…” I tell him I can’t paint what he thinks I should paint, I have to paint what I think I should paint. I have on the rare occasion done a request of one of my kids. But I would have a hard time with them art directing me! I am so impressed with your patience.

  3. Wow. Thank you. We will see where it takes me. When I first started painting it was entirely for myself, I decided not to care what others thought or needed from it. Lately, I’ve been painting for others either hired or for my kids, and I think I really love the experience. It is a new layer of the challenge – to get into someone else’s perspective. Daire’s dragon was soooo challenging. But I definitely have a style I’m comfortable with (like your were discussing in your blog) and I work within it as well. I love that your son is an artist too, my daughter has also expressed wanting to be an artist and if that is where life takes her, I want her to go for it.

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