Dana is happier with the turtles progress now. The water has pulled in the ideas she was exploring in her drawing. She notices this. She feels seen, she feels important. I have had a small moment of connection and motherly victory. I'll take what I can get. I get a lot of eye rolls and sighs these days too.
I also washed the head in some deep yellow because she suggested a golden head. I'm really going to have to think about the head now. I'll look at some pictures, but as I write some ideas are forming.
So much of painting is looking, studying, thinking. I often take long breaks and photos on my cell phone so I can just look. Before I had my studio, I used to prop my painting at at the end of the bed before I went to sleep, just to look at it and make decisions for my next painting session.
Her original drawing has a nest of eggs. She has told me not to include it now. Honestly, I'm glad to not include it, I knew it would be challenging to design. It will let me focus on the other elements more thoroughly. I think it will also reflect the experience of seeing the turtles more acurately. And in some way, that makes it more magical for me, and less scientific. Is that weird? The turtle just appears and we don't know where it comes from now.
For me, There is a point in painting, when a the painting goes from being a painting “of something” to a reflection of my viewpoint, where I and the painting merge. At this point I internally say “Now, this is me, now I'm heading somewhere,”. It is as if I and the painting are making our ways towards each other.
Ironically, often when I'm done, I laugh and think I must be a little insane. I don't mind being crazy as long as it makes me laugh.
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 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.
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.