Mother Child 4, 6×6, oil on gessoboard, $75 Buy Now
This is a painting I started a couple days ago, but it got off to such a rough start that I abandoned it right away.
Scary, right? It’s based on an old photograph a friend sent in of her own mother and her then newborn brother. I didn’t print out the photo because I didn’t want to obsess over capturing their likenesses. Instead, I wanted a guide, a blurry model to help me capture that madonna-like moment of tenderness.
Which is difficult for me to contemplate right now as I listen to Ezra screaming from the other room. My mom is trying to soothe him, trying to give me time to finish painting. It’s his nap time, and we’re going on a trip today to visit a couple of college friends in Mississippi. The plan was to leave right after his nap. It’s an hour into his nap and he has yet to sleep.
I explain this because this painting was as frustrating as parenting is today. I took a much needed break after I wrote the previous paragraph. Since then Ezra has settled into sleep and I feel like I can think again. I’d photographed the “finished” painting before my break. When I came back and looked at it there was so much wrong.
The darks were too harsh. Her shoulder was digging into the side of her face. I went to an art conference once where the famous New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos said that sometimes he gives himself a set amount of time– thirty minutes, an hour, I don’t remember exactly– to try to salvage a painting. See if in that limited time he can make something of it.
That’s what I did. I set the timer on my phone (phone really came in handy today) for thirty minutes and attempted to save the painting. And, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but I think it might have worked.
And, again, not to entertain even more unfounded jumps, but isn’t that a lot like parenting? Just quit, accept your limited resources and time, accept that you did, are doing, the best that you can? Then do better later, the next day? Try again.
I remember that first time I tried to sleep train Ezra and the disaster it was. I usually say “he wasn’t ready” but the truth is I wasn’t. A wise person told me that the great thing about parenting a young child is that if something doesn’t work one day, you can always just try it again the next. Which is what I did, eventually. Now my baby sleeps like a champ, and I feel like I have my life back. Which is why his little lapses, his tiny breaks in routine, leave me feeling helpless.
I could say more. But I’ve got a shower to take and a road trip to begin.
Here’s all the photos together and proof that things that start out rough can, and sometimes, do, turn out alright in the end.