When we were asked to paint a memory, I went with the first one that popped forward for me. At first I figured it was a happy memory, but as I was thinking about it and writing about it in my journal, once again I was crying like a baby. But then again, it’s a memory that always brings me to tears, even now as I write this blog entry.
The memory I chose was of my late grandmother and her love that just would just radiate from her. She was a feisty old lady and very much the matriarch of our family (our family hasn’t been the same since she passed). She passed away from throat cancer a few months after my son turned 3 months old. And I knew deep inside that I wanted my painting to reflect her love.
My grandmother’s passing still affects me greatly today. There is not a moment that when I think about her or something reminds me of her that my eyes starts to water, a lump forms in my throat and my heart aches for her. I had every intention to start with an image of my grandmother and just let it go from there. Of course my painting had other plans. I admit, I was worried in the middle of when I was working on it that it wasn’t going to look right or that somehow I had screwed something up (let’s face it, my choice of paper wasn’t being very helpful at the time either).
I started to doubt myself (yep…that damn fear gremlin again). But I stuck with my guns and pushed through. I had to. There was something that was trying to get out and this was how it was expressing itself.
Beginning and progress shots
When my grandmother took a turn for the worse in her battle with cancer, I knew it was only a matter of time before we lost her. At one point she had a lump in her through that encompassed her vocal cords. They removed the lump, vocal cords, but she needed to have a tracheostomy in the end. I have a framed picture of my grandmother holding my son when he was 2 weeks old. She smiled and beamed with love in that picture as she held him, for once since her surgery she didn’t care that she couldn’t vocalize or about the hole in her throat that she was self conscious of. All she cared about at that moment was the little bundle of cuteness that she held in her arms. Just being there at that moment definitely made the sleepless nights with a newborn well worth it.
My grandmother passed away in the spring when my son was 3 months old. I remember her wake and how much I was thankful that she got to hold her great grandbaby as I watched with mama hawk eyes as the rest of my family and our close friends cooed and passed him around. He was a very content little guy, not making so much as a whimper (call me crazy but I think he enjoyed being the center of attention that night). I knew that his presence and people getting to hold him brought comfort to a great many people that night.
I’ve always felt disappointed that my son wouldn’t actually grow up with his great grandmother in his life. I feel bad sometimes that she was very much a part of mine and my cousins lives and that we’ve had so many years with her. Sure I share stories of her with my son and tell him all about her, but deep down, those stories and memories of her just aren’t the same as experiencing the woman my grandmother was. So when my painting started turning out as it had with a very simple rendition of my son (he came home from school and even recognized it as him) with my grandmother and the love that just radiates between the two.
I wasn’t sure if it was finished when I hung it on the wall. I needed to “live” with it for a little while. And I did. I added the white outline over the light silver. But something was still off about it. I wasn’t happy with the fact that it was looking a little cartoonish. I hadn’t drawn in a cartoonish style since high school (I have sketchbooks full of different characters that I’ve dreamed up and would draw). The cartoonish style was really bugging me. It wasn’t until I was talking to one of my best friends that it all just clicked and felt right.
Week 2 BIG painting…finishedThere was a reason it had an cartoonish animated feel to it. It was reflecting my son’s very animated personality and can be very dramatic sometimes (should see how dramatic he gets when I ask him to clean his room…).
Once I made that connection, it felt oh so right.