Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Blank Canvas

Because this young boy died in a tragic accident, along with his best friend and his best friend's mother, this commission has been one of the most difficult I have ever done. To be inspired by the great courage his parents have had during their grieving process, please visit:

I stared at the blank canvas for probably 20 minutes. I said a prayer (okay, several), and then finally started the block in:

I remembered my greatest teacher, William Whitaker saying, "The first stroke you make on a canvas is always perfect. It's the second stroke and all subsequent strokes that can ruin everything. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is simply leave a painting alone."

I took a deep breath, and then got warmed up:

Once things started to come together, I got a little more confident:

The painting began to have a life of its own at this point. This is the point where you've committed enough that you either have to finish it or start over. So I finally braved the serious stuff:

Several sessions later, was finally happy with it:

I've thought a lot about being a mother through this process.

My children are my blank canvases. Sometimes I just stare at them, frozen, thinking about all I wish to teach them. I say a prayer and start to go forward, one lesson at a time. I remember the advice, "The first stroke you make is always perfect." I look at my beautiful girls and see this is true. They are perfect little beings.

Then I keep going and worry that "it's the second stroke and all subsequent strokes that can ruin everything."

I remind myself that "sometimes the hardest thing to do is simply leave [them] alone."

At this point, I still feel like I am in the bare beginning stages--just a few basic strokes for composition and placement on their blank little slates.

Some day I'll have to turn the brush entirely over to them. They will take on a life of their own. I hope by then they can see what beautiful potential they have and make the last strokes with courage and bravado.

Thank you, Deena, for the honor of painting Austin. It's helped to remind me of the incredible opportunity of motherhood, the fact that anything can change in an instant, and that knowledge that every day is a gift.

Thank you, God, for the honor of raising Brynn and Heidi. My own little miracles remind me of Thy infinite goodness.

2011Res: To Matt: I love your honor. You really do have a ton of it. To my girls: today I savored your hair. Brynn--your hair is always a mess (and you refuse any bows to help it). Heidi, yours is just fuzz with the characteristic bald spot in the back. But whether mess or fuzz, I just loved it all today. Dear Mr H: today I made you a scrumptious breakfast because I love you.


Jenn Ross said...

Beautifully written, and beautiful painting!

Kate said...

What beautiful analogies. I've never heard them before, but they seem so dead-on.

Alyson said...

You've done a wonderful job with the painting. I'd really, really struggle with that commission. But I think it's important work for his family.

Ruining children—sigh. Something I worry about all the time. I hope that most of my strokes are good ones, rather than ruining ones.

Pieces of me... said...

You have such a God given gift Natalie! And I am so grateful to see that you have used it in a way that will bless the lives of others. Amazing!

Lori said...

What a beautiful analogy! I also think you did a great job on the painting. I'm assuming that since Austin shares your maiden name that he was related to you somehow. So I send you my sympathies for his loss. Thanks for sharing.

The Morton's said...

Beautiful post Natalie!!!!!

Steve said...

Natalie thank you so much for painting such a beautiful picture of our little man. You did a fantastic job! This will touch many lives.


Anonymous said...

The portrait is beautiful. He is so deeply missed

Phyllis said...

You did an amazing job of capturing the essence of Austin.

Natalie said...

Thank you, Steve. Keep up the good work being such a remarkable example of fatherhood. And thank you to all those who shared compliments.

Natalie said...

PS Lori--no relation. Just a coincidence.

Kim Strellis said...

Two white butterflies flutter outside my window in the garden as I read your words and see your prayers poured into Austin's painting. The butterflies are a blessing and so are you Natalie. God has given you an amazing talent to be able to express Him so eloquently. Thank you so much for sharing Austin with us and the progression.

Natalie said...

Thanks, Kim. God works in mysterious ways.