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Thursday, March 21, 2013

a portrait of oma.

as a child my mom decided she needed a creative outlet to help her relax and relieve the stresses of everyday life, so she began taking tole painting classes and continued to do so for a number of years. each week she would attend class with her bag of supplies; a blue canvas bag filled with brushes, spatulas, dotting tools and every colour of 'folkart' acrylic paint you could think of, and i can remember sitting in the basement going through all her art supplies and organizing the paint colours in order from my favourite to least favourite. in between classes she would sit at the dining room table with the french doors closed, and paint away for hours on end. however not long after her first class, it became clear that the hobby she began as an attempt to decompress, brought forth a different kind of stress she we hadn't anticipated (needless to say a glass of wine was added to her list of "supplies"). however she stuck to it, swore a whole lot, and painted several really beautiful pieces that still decorate my parents home to this day. so it's easy to see where my interest to paint stems from.
from the moment i picked up the paintbrush and started blending colours, right to the very last stroke of my signature, i loved everything about working on this painting. choosing what to paint was the easiest decision of the process, made when i discovered this portrait of my oma taken by my opa sometime in the 1950's. i love every last detail of the photograph from her pearl necklace and beautiful smile from behind her cateye glasses, to the blush pink dress and how it's darted along the bust, and the farm fencing along the very backyard i spent many summers playing in behind her, i instantly knew it had to be the first thing i attempted to paint on canvas.

now i am by no means an artist -- i don't know what to use and when, and i sure as hell don't know how or why, but somehow this came together exactly how i pictured it in my mind. working in stages over a span of 3 sessions i spent a total of 25 hours at the dining room table (sounding familiar?), the record player on, simply delighted the entire time. from the sketching process to colour blocking and then finally into the details i learned the importance of taking my time, stepping away when things became worthy of screaming fuck at the top of my lungs (again, deja vu?) and knowing when enough was enough. i wanted the painting to be simple & clean, bold & colourful, and closely resemble the original photograph without being exact -- but most importantly i wanted it to look and feel like oma.
i battled with the fact that certain aspects of the photo couldn't translate into paint with my lack of experience, so for my sanity i made executive decisions to change her glasses and necklace. from the photo it's hard to tell her eye colour, but i know that in real life they have always been the most beautiful turquoise blue, so i felt it was necessary to include that special detail. painting her lips was by far my favourite detail to work on -- not only for choosing the colours and building the shape, but for how much character and life it brought to the painting. for my first attempt, i have to say i'm thrilled with how the final product turned out, and it has definitely sparked the desire in me to keep painting. my goal is to fill our home with things we love and make us happy, and to be able to do that with unique, handmade pieces only tickles my pickle further. 
i plan on bringing the painting with me the next time i visit oma, and i'm interested to see the reaction she has. i'm curious if her incredible 91 year old mind will instantly know it's a painting of her, or if she'll struggle with the memory of it all. a part of me believes she sadly just won't make the connection, which is completely understandable and totally fine by me. but a bigger part, the romantic part, can't help but think that anytime she was photographed by opa is a memory that lives inside her heart as well as her mind, and is one that will never leave her.


  1. i love this so incredibly much. you are talented as an artist, and a wordsmith <3 thank you for this and thank oma for being so GD stylish before her time :)

    1. You don't know how much that means to me coming from you! I loved every moment of this, and want to get better and better! Thanks for the love :)xo

  2. Amanda, it's just LOVELY. And I think you nailed it first time because it's someone so important to you. I love how you did her lips too... there is a lot of expression in that little quirky flick at the edge of her lips!

  3. This turned out so fantastic!! You'll be doing more..yes? Can't wait to see ;)

    xx Ash

    1. I don't ever wanna stop! Can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve!


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