Photo by Alex Brook Lynn
This is my collection of paintings that aren't for sale and are significant in my art practice. The most meaningful art for me to make is always a response to motherhood. This is a blog-like page where I share these personal paintings and verbalize the themes I'm exploring.
Pink Sun Shower
Bringing color into our apartment was a way for me to cope with the long winter '22-'23. This Fuschia shower curtain felt like the right choice while browsing online- an all-in type of thing. When it arrived, I felt like I was back in my early 2000s bedroom I shared with my cool, older teen sister with the curtains we painted pink and black. I really regretted it. Then one afternoon I was sitter-vising (what my sisters and I call when you set your kids up in a safe activity where you can mentally check out and sit back a little more than usual) Enzo while he took a shower to make it thru a long winter day indoors, when the sun hit this hot pink curtain just right—the nasty pale, creamy pink tiles of our rental light up in a Fuschia glow. Enzos little toddler tush poked out from behind the curtain as he fussed with the faucet and I knew it was a moment I would cherish. Surviving a New York City winter as a stay-at-home mom is no joke. Color helps you thru it.
Reading in the Window
Quick studies and warm-up paintings have become my new favorite things. I get to paint whatever photo I find on my phone with no expectations. Just getting my eye ready for my painting session and my mind in the zone. I've found that the quicker I paint, the more my unique style comes out. Under a time crunch, you don't work and rework and rework any given area to death; you just try to make the most exact mark on the first go and move on to the next. I like setting 20-minute timers and then usually adding another 10 min of finishing touches because I can't help myself. This was one of the first warm-up paintings I did when I decided to start implementing them, and it excited me to see my style really shine thru. It was so hard for me not to go back and fix the things that bother me- my hair is too big, my face could use a touch more information, etc. But I love it more because I didn't do those things. I let my mistakes shine and leaned into my weaknesses.
Justin & Enzo Deep in Conversation
Stepping back long enough to let my husband and son experience each other without me has been an embarrassingly challenging task. I feel the need to rescue my husband from crying and tantrums, and rescue my son from dad's inefficient (not actually inefficient, just not moms way) way of doing things. It's annoying- to them and to me. Kids need to get used to dads way of parenting, and dads need to get used to parenting. This day, at the playground, dad got up to follow enzo out of the swings area and over to the big grassy area. I sat back. Eventually, they ended up on a ledge together, enjoying each other, and I was so grateful I sat back. They looked deep in conversation, such a sweet image and a glimpse into their relationship.
Enzo's first day riding the school bus to school was hard for me. Even though he is getting taken to a center where he receives therapies to address his speech delay and sensory processing issues, I felt overwhelmed with guilt for handing him to a stranger on a school bus, while he was screaming and crying. The more we've done it, the more we've both gotten used to it. Intellectually, I know he needs it and it's good for him. Emotionally, it's a struggle every morning. The first morning he took the bus, I missed him, felt guilty, and was anxious. I decided to paint but didn't care about anything that wasn't about him, and painting him felt a little too on the nose. On Valentines Day, I "heart attacked" his bedroom door. He loved it so much, especially pulling each heart off the door and throwing it on the ground. He spent the whole day saying "heart!" I knew he felt loved because something was done for him, and I was right there celebrating with him as he played with the paper hearts. They sat scattered on his floor for days and days; reminders to both of us how much I love him.
Art Breaking the Family
This painting was a therapeutic piece for me to create, where I was trying to conceptualize the isolating feeling of existing in your nuclear family without the village that it apparently takes to raise a child. On top of that, we are a family of two artists. Art can consume us and our loved ones but it can also edify. We have the power to make art a positive element in our families.
Stopping for Potatoes
As mothers, we are expected to chain our errands and spend hours and hours tending to things the entire family benefits from. Yet, when our male counterparts do that, they are heralded as heroic and generous with their precious, diamond-like time. I was jealous of the way my husband was undoubtedly perceived by strangers on the street as he pushed his son home from the playground with the bag of potatoes I asked him to pick up. When I do this, I'm considered "in the way" and people are upset I bring a bulky stroller into an over-crowded Brooklyn produce market, but when he does it, he's "such a good dad!"
Portrait of A Mother on A Beach Vacation
This painting was done out of the grief of mourning my favorite activity being any kind of enjoyable; going to the beach. When I saw the photo my husband snapped of me helicoptering our 9 month old baby at Brighton Beach, what hit me right in the face was my "Lifeguard" shirt. Our vacation to the beach was anything but relaxing for me as I felt my role on the vacation, and as I started to realize, my role in our species, was literally just guarding life. No more carefree hours of soaking up sun rays. I thought the next year would be different, but instead, I did MORE rigorous life guarding when my son could walk and run. I wonder what this summer will be like...
Portrait of the Mother on a Beach Vacation 2
On top of the themes I discussed in the painting above, these two pieces were a space to play with composition. I enjoy square dimensions much more than rectangular canvases which I think plays a big part in why I prefer the composition of this painting. This piece is a lot smaller and on a scale I'm more comfortable with. My favorite part of this composition is the figures in the water, which, of course, since we were at Brighton Beach at 9 am, were all old Russian women.
Enzo at the Covid Circus
With not much outside the home to entertain babies and toddlers during the span of the COVID-19 pandemic, most mothers had to get creative in order to not lose their minds. The Added labor of having children in places that don't really cater to children (cities) is apparent in the fact that families- only those with the luxury to do so- with young children FLED from cities and into rural and suburban areas when the pandemic began, "hightailing it out of town on their privilege," (Tone Tank, Quarantine Dreams). Me and Enzo got a $19 circus tent from IKEA and "went to the circus" in our living room by filling the tent with books and toys.
Gifts of Letting Go
One of the most useful lessons I've learned since becoming a mom is that it's ok- even good- to let go. Releasing control of situations with your baby/toddler not only gives them the opportunity to organically explore the world and experience natural consequences (world's best teacher) but also gives you a chance to sit still for a moment and enjoy seeing your child experience the world. This was a moment when I sat back and instead of policing Enzo putting sand in his mouth, his diaper, and his hair, I just let him explore. We sat in the sand for MINUTES, which is rare for this hyperactive baby. We sat long enough for me to pull out my phone and photograph him. I'll always cherish the times I was rewarded with a beautiful memory just for sitting back and allowing myself a second to breathe. As mothers, we are socially and culturally expected to watch over our kids like a hawk. If you don't have eyes on your kid 24/7, you're an awful, selfish, inadequate mother (we even harbor these judgments against our fellow mothers). While this is obviously not true, it's still the expectation that we mothers expend our "endless" time and energy as helicopters over our kids. When we sit back and release a little control- when appropriate- we get rewarded with beautiful memories and effective lessons taught by natural consequences. The fact that this natural and universal loophole exists, gives me hope that there really is a God, and she's a feminist.