I began imagining this piece several months ago…I wanted to try an Impressionist piece, stretching my techniques and experimenting with color combinations and textures outside of my comfort zone. I originally made sketches of a grown woman, elbows on a pillow, sewing torn fabric, her profile in view. When I decided to turn the face toward the light of the window, I asked my daughter to pose for me so I could get an idea of what the cheek would look like. When I saw her looking at the window, with her little arms and feet posed, the piece took a whole new direction. I loved her little hands and her long hair brushing the floor. The painting reminds me of daydreams in the midst of activity, of learning new things when you might rather be doing something else, of innocence and simplicity held in place, of the inevitable movement of growing up.
Before the change of subject, several poems led the way to the formation of this piece:
An excerpt from William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence”
“It is right, it should be so
Man was made for Joy and Woe
And when this we rightly know
Thro’ the world we safely go.
Joy and Woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine;
Under every grief and pine
Runs a Joy with silken twine.”
An excerpt from Ecclesiastes 3
“A time to tear and a time to sew”
I incorporate these words into the painting with the white fabric and the silken twine with which she sews. I think of her innocence as a young child, and how as she grows she will discover Joy and Woe, and their link in this life. It makes me a little sad, as I try to shield my children from any Woe, but I recognize that where there is Joy, somewhere there is Woe; when the unavoidable Woe comes into innocent lives, we can show the Joy that runs somewhere through it, like a silken twine. Within myself, I recognize this muddled relationship of Joy and Woe, how they are indeed woven together…that you can feel sadness and joy at the same time, and that sometimes you feel like life as you know it is being torn apart, but then it is finally time for the gentle work of repair.