When I look this painting by Gustav Klimt, so many emotions come to me. I love the colors and patterns and story. In May, my watercolor painting classes will take inspiration from Klimt whose painting shimmer with texture and gold leaf. We'll create our own works of art which are intimate portraits that incorporate pattern and some mixed media materials like metallic paints and markers. This painting doesn't use the metallics but it is on theme for Mother's Day, so I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about it.
In the first place, this work reminds me what it was like to hold my babies when I was a young mom. That was a long time ago, but I can still remember the softness of their new skin and the sweet milky smell of them. Good art will transport you just like that to another time and place. Life was very "in the moment" back then, and time seemed to move slowly. In this image, the baby is safe in her mother's arms and those little hands are holding on. I remember those little hands, too, and the completely trusting nature of a child to sleep most peacefully when in my arms. In this painting, with its delightful abstraction, the main story is the mama and her tenderness toward her child. The many swirling flowers give her a fairy-tale status. She is a force of nature in repose. What makes this painting pass the test of time is how the Madonna and child are in a tradition spanning centuries of paintings from the middle ages and renaissance forward. While this is no portrait of Mother Mary and baby Jesus, it's message of love is no less divine. The simplification of the features make these characters universal across cultures and times. Which leads me to the question--is or was Mother's Day celebrated culturally anywhere before Hallmark decided to make it a holiday?
Before we know it, our babies aren't babies anymore. They will never fit into the crook of our neck and elbow again. They will keep growing into something else that is partially recognizable and part mystery to unravel. They will have their own agenda and mission. Eventually, our children leave without ever having known us except as "mom," but if we've done the job right, that's good enough. It is the most important job after all.
If you are an artist, I hope you decide at some point in your art life to memorialize your special relationship with your kiddos in a portrait that includes you, so that when they look at it they can remember the softness of your skin and the smell of your hair.
If you want to give an art experience as a gift for Mother's Day, be in touch and I'll help you decide what classes might best match for the Mom in your life. She doesn't even need to leave home to participate in the best watercolor painting classes or beginning drawing classes.