Ezra, 6×6, oil on gessoboard
Two thirds of the way through my thirty paintings in thirty days, and it’s Easter Sunday. I can’t help but think back to last Easter. I had finally realized that my husband was not just going through a “phase”, that he was completely and irrevocably gone. I don’t remember much about the homily except this notion that death had to be experienced before resurrection. Get in the tomb, the priest said. Smell, feel, listen. Only then is resurrection possible.
A year later, and I’m battling Ezra in the pew. He’s loud, squirmy, impatient. He eats raisins, half of which he throws on the floor. It’s a different church, different priest, different child. He’s not a baby anymore. Somewhere between trying to entertain him and walking him to the back because he’s disturbing others, I hear tiny bits of the homily: “the resurrection brings more hope than we can handle.”
I haven’t done a portrait in quite some time, and this is my first true portrait of Ezra. I’ve attempted to paint his face before but always abandoned it before it progressed. I guess I finished this one because it’s so small. Innocuous. I used to paint big. A 16×20 felt tiny to me, but doing these little paintings feels freer, less risky.
I’m thinking about Ezra today, his sweet face, disposition; the ways he’s changed me, given me hope. I’m thinking of all I can’t give him, and how little control I actually have. More hope than I can handle? I’m still sometimes shocked by the realization that I’m a mother, that my life is no longer my own. I worry too much about what kind of mother other people think I am. But there is certainly hope and I’m not sure I can handle it, process it, envision what its realization what look like. Clinging to it.
I wanted to paint an impression of Ezra and sometimes its hard not to blend the colors. I wanted to capture his spirit more than his features. I’m not sure I’m there yet, but I loved painting him, loved it when his smile emerged.