Acrylic on canvas
18 x24 (approximately)
Late in September (or maybe it was early October) I received a message from a friend whom I have known for a very long time. She wanted me to create a custom art piece for her. It was a very special request for a painting with very specific subject matter that represented my friend, her husband, her children, and a bumble bee. The bumble bee was to represent her daughter who passed away soon after the she was born. Her name was Leah. She wanted me to create a painting that would honour the life of her daughter while bringing closure (not closure, but something symbolic of her life) and healing to her and her family. In essence, that's what my intention was for this painting based on our discussion. This was no small task. At the same time, it felt like the most natural thing in the world for me to do. I work well with the influences of emotion and this concept was obviously very full of emotional subject matter. It seemed like a perfect for us both. It felt like it was time to put my calling (a combination of healing abilities and artistic abilities, I suppose) into practice. I went to work immediately.
(There is a very personal and beautiful story concerning the spirit of this baby and how she seemed to show herself to her family through a bumble bee, but I don't feel like it is my place to tell it here).
About the painting:
Invariably, when a painter paints, we lose ourselves in the scene before our eyes. As I worked on this piece, I noticed my mind drifting off and I would start to think about this baby girl. I would think about Leah. Who was Leah? What would she want me to say to her family if she could send a message through me and my paints? I felt like her spirit drifted ever so close to me now and then, whispering thoughts of love for her family in little whispers. These feelings would come and go.
Then, at other times, I would think about my friend and her family. Her other children and her husband. I would think about the things they have experienced together. I would think about these bonds that bring families ever so close. How they bind us all together in our humanness. These bonds are the pulse of a family. The source of our growth. I thought about my own family. My own children.
Now and then, also, moments would crop up when the painting came to be about the ways in which paint touches a canvas. They way colours play off of each other. The way a shimmering glaze might catch the sun from my friend's kitchen window and light up the wings of the bumble bee. Artist's thoughts.
I was honoured to be called upon to complete this project. To know that, in some small way, my ability as an artist will help a family to heal from a very difficult time makes my heart sing. To represent this little life, to feel that connection to a baby girl who was only with this world very briefly, is miraculous to me. I feel God in that: "Written on my heart in burning letters..." as Leonard Cohen says.
I don't want to take this post too much further. I don't think that I have to say much more for you, dear reader, to get the point that this was an important project. My friend and her family loved the painting and were very happy with it. This, of course, makes me very happy too. My humble gifts to the world.