Story of Hearts

This painting was very challenging for me.  It took me about a year to complete, and I didn’t work on any other paintings during that time.  I’ve been in a bit of a painting rut, leaving it alone for long stretches of time without working on it at all.  Today I looked at it and said to myself, “This is done.  It has to be done.  I’m adding my signature and moving on to another project.”  Otherwise, I would have agonized over it for even longer.

It’s a concept piece.  I wanted to create a painting in which each layer contains a stage within a story.  I knew that the earliest layers would end up covered by subsequent layers, but I envisioned that each stage would be integral to the resulting piece, and that, in the end, each part of the story could be expressed in one image.

It is a story about life and love.  It’s about hope, hurt, healing, finding true love, and acceptance.  It’s eventually about me finding my husband, Vinod.

Stage 1 – Birth
-001 baby heart

At this sage, my heart has just come into existence.  It’s not yet independent… still within my mother’s womb or within her warm embrace.  Soft pink and red billows of love surround it.  It is perfect, delicate, and safe.

Stage 2 – Nature-002 nature

After birth, my heart grows with curiosity about the surrounding world.  It is fiery and open, reaching out to explore the grasses and trees which represent nature.

Stage 3 – Society-003 society

At this stage, my heart is constrained by real or imagined limitations and expectations of society.  Eyes peer at me between the leaves.  A vine wraps around me, constricting me.

Stage 4 – Growth004 growth

The center of my heart becomes golden.  It solidifies, and is protected, remaining true and strong.  My childhood self resides within me.  While it remains constrained by the vine, new parts of my heart continue to grow.  The growth pushes back against the constricting vine, and flexibly develops around it.

Stage 5 – Cold hearts, false lovers005 lovers

In my quest to find love, I encounter other hearts. I grow toward them.  But they are cold, and will eventually break me.

Stage 6 – True love, Healing and Acceptance006 mending wounds

I don’t have an image that captures my heart breaking before it is sewn together.  But after this occurs, I meet my husband, represented by the big, golden heart approaching me from above.

At this stage, the story has pretty much been layed out.  Now, my job is to work into the painting, trying to make it more visually appealing.

007 flowers growing

I made Vinod’s heart golden using layers of yellow paint and gold glitter.  The sutures of my heart are also golden, to reflect his influence.  The vine holding me breaks.  The area surrounding us blooms with flowers.008 scales

I begin to add scales to the cold hearts that broke me, to convey their reptilian, cold-blooded quality.  I added a night sky and moon for a contrasting background that also adds perspective.009 starry sky and violets

Continuous layers of paint add depth and clarify the focal images.  I decide to limit the landscape to grass and violets.  Violet is a name I’ve been thinking I might name my first born daughter one day.  It’s also my favorite color.

Finished piece:010 fishished pieceAfter working for a long time on the violets, I looked at the painting and determined today that it was finished.  Voila!

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