Sunday, January 20, 2013

My mother's hands

My mom is an artist. She does lovely work in watercolor but her true love is colored pencil. She is also an extremely good knitter. She thinks of herself as a knitter, a mother, a wife and a grandmother perhaps more than she thinks of herself as an artist. But her work is very good and she has been in national level competitions.

But she finds the engagement with other artists to be trying a times. She wants to be left alone to pursue her own subjects. She has taught but doesn't like teaching. She has taken lessons, but doesn't try to emulate the instructor. She is rather independent.

She has not shown any of her work in several years. In her mid-70s now, and with some health issues, she finds the entire process of matting, framing and delivery completely exhausting and tedious. She gets frustrated when she has to pay a fee to show her work and little sells. She forgets, I think, that we live in the middle of nowhere with a permanently depressed economy and local galleries have limitations.

But she has continued to work. She has piles of matted and unmatted colored pencil paintings that no one has ever seen but for family.

As her grandkids have reached adulthood and begun the journey of decorating their own homes, they have come to realize that not everyone has had the priviledge of orginal art work on the walls as they did growing up. They complain of roommates with tacky tastes in posters and without the ability to properly hang things on the wall. Over the holidays, we had Thanksgiving dinner at her house and many of her grandchildren were there, and mom mentioned that she wanted to get rid of some of these older paintings but didn't know what to do with them.

With that, we all trooped up the stairs and the grandkids decended on her set asides and rejects like vultures on road kill. It was a little frightening how they snatched up piece after piece. My son and his girlfriend admired some older framed work and she told them to take them.

Later, I apologized for the feeding frenzy but mom said she really appreciated the delight in their eyes. "I guess I need to get back to work," she said. "Someone actually likes my stuff."

Over the same weekend, I took pictures of many of my family members including the photo of my sister that resulted in a small painting in an earlier post. Mom mentioned that she has always wanted to do a painting of a knitters hands but could never figure out how to hold the knitting needles and the camera at the same time. So, she took up the pose and I snapped a couple of pictures over her shoulder.

I still need to get the pictures to her. But I took one of them and yesterday worked up this 9X12" pastel painting.

Underpainting with alcohol followed by Senneliar extra soft on Mi-Teintes grey. This is still taped to the drawing board and you can see some of the over wash from the underpainting.


  1. Maybe because I am also a knitter I really like your painting - it is such a good idea.

    1. Please explore it further. I do believe there is a whole series of paintings here... I have many knitting friends but also friends who spin and those who weave. My sheep shearer doesn't know it yet, but I do plan to make her the subject of one of my paintings.