Joe handed me last year’s holiday card and said, “I want you to paint the kids!” I said, “I can’t paint the kids.” But to keep the framer happy, I primed two more 6” x 8” birch plywood panels with gesso and then a background color of orange which I paint over, sometimes letting it show through. I used Holbein Acryla Gouche for ease in drying and clean up.
The effort is not one painting, but three portraits. Three people in one painting takes 3 times the effort of one portrait. Painting teachers always say you should be painting the entire canvas all at one time, but some of us go piecemeal when the occasion calls for it. Like Amanda Gorman who built her inauguration poem a line a day at a time, I felt today’s two panels came together very slowly. Painting felt like an idea every few days or a week. There was the election, after all. The photo had big smiles so I had to invent closed mouths. I never show teeth. I had to wait for the muse to suggest a table in front and a shelf behind.
It is easy to put books on a shelf, but I was stumped for the rest of the space. No room for the pet pugs. Desperate for ideas, I studied stencils. Joe suggested hints of sports which seemed impossible. I had wanted to just use trophies, for that is what the grandchildren can seem; but then I bit the bullet, sketching stick figures atop the skinny trophies I searched trophies online. The biggest trophy suggests more. I hope I painted the affection I feel for all three grandchildren.
I had made two sketches of my reading the newspaper every morn and thought I wanted to paint those as well. I wanted to add masks and glasses and other symbols, but the newspapers capture my 2020 world in some important way. I didn’t really want to paint all of 2020. We are starting anew!