As many of you know, I lost my sister/ best friend recently. It has left me unable and some times unwilling to express my emotions. Which is strange because this is what I do, I put my feelings onto words, whether in poetry, song or in some cute way to make us all laugh at our circumstances and feel better about them. But Now, I’ve got nothing! No words will come out, they will not even form in my mind, and even when they do they refuse to come out of my mouth in any coherent manner.
Being an artist, I turned to painting for my therapy, or processing of my emotions. My original thought was to just do something simple. I can’t concentrate long enough or even care enough to focus on doing a portrait and make sure that it looks like a specific person. I had painted a few dancers and thought I could continue in that series. After asking for help with reference photos from my friends on face book, I was overwhelmed with the out pouring of responses. Several photo were dramatically lighted and drew my attention and so I pulled one of them and started considering the composition.
Original reference photo from Melodie Lauhan
That night as I was falling asleep I envisioned a dripping background to this piece and that I could do in monotone in sepia colors. So the next morning I started to paint.
Once the background was painted and dry I traced on my drawing of the dance just like in the photo. Then I started blocking in her form.
But the more I painted the more I felt the sadness of the piece, as if I was painting my pain. So instead of trying to fix it and make it brighter or happier, I decided to embrace the pain, crying with every brush stroke applied to the canvas. Soon I realized that this dancers pose was not expressive enough to show the depths of grief that I was feeling. So I decided to move the arms and make her holding her head.
I moved her hands several times before getting them exactly where I wanted them also changing the tilt of her head. I was even blessed to get my Photographer son Isaiah Miller to photograph my beautiful daughter in law in the hand pose I needed, and under the same lighting conditions as the original reference photo to make it easier for me to paint it correctly.The problem I had now was that I could not repaint the background as I loved the feeling of the drips so I had to hide the painting of the hands on the floor in the hair. Since my daughter in law has such lovely long full hair, this was an easy transition.
Once the detail in the hands and body were complete I felt I needed to clothe her in black to finish the look of one who mourns. Once that was done I felt that I had achieved expressing my inner most emotions. I hope that you can feel what my heart is saying and I hope that it touches you deeply.
Please leave a comment telling me how this piece makes you feel and what it tells you. I would love to hear from you.