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This photo is of my grandmother on my mother’s side.  The baby is my uncle and the little girl is my mother. My uncle is the only one left alive from this image.

I can see a theme developing in my art already — I used a wooden board as a base, adhered white tissue paper with gel medium (I really like the texture), then cut the image up in pieces — I wanted to experiment with dividing a photo into separate parts.  This technique fits my grandmother well, as she was never a happy person.  In this photo I almost detect a smile, but I never once saw her joyful while she was alive.  I always wondered what made her feel so divided from herself.

I glued the images down with the gel medium and used it over the surface with a bit of pearl paint mixed in.  I took some silver acrylic paint on the tip of a wide flat brush and dabbed it along the edges of the photo pieces.  Finally, after it dried a little while, I carved another stamp to use as an accent.

As I worked on this piece I prayed a lot with my grandmother’s energy.  I asked for blessings of joy on her now.  I reflected on my own places where I feel divided.  What are the commitments or choices I make that keep me from wholeness?  When I reach the end of Advent will I have moved away from habits of division and toward patterns of greater life? 

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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16 Responses

  1. Have to respond to KATHY FLUGEL STONE – the name change thing is so huge. I didn’t do it when I had the opportunity – but it wasn’t the right thing for me to do …..
    but congratulations that you did!

    My daughter reverted to her maiden name (she was a single mom for 10 years) and even dropped a middle name when she was divorced. Her children have another name – her first husband’s name; her new and last husband has a different name – she is remaining with her maiden name. I admit it makes it difficult for correspondence to the new household of which we are so totally and joyfully into accepting but the naming business is a BIG thing. Be proud of it. Use it.

    The connection to your grandmother’s name is wonderful. You’re doing it right because it’s you! Congratulations!

    Sunrise Sister

  2. Yes, art is a great process. I have been having some conversations with my aunt about my grandmother (my aunt wasn’t born yet in this photo) and I am thinking of going to visit her in Maine in the spring to have her help me with the family tree and stories.

  3. love the textures and the act of praying for your grandmother while creating this. cutting the images like you did is interesting with how you saw her personality. i constantly wonder why someone doesn’t smile very often – lack of confidence or self love – bitterness – thinking its a sign of weakness – not wanting to reveal the true self. guess it could be a combination of things. but its sad to think someone might have a broken heart from even a young age. art can be so therapeutic.

  4. Beck, so glad you are experimenting! That’s so great. :-) The oil paint will dry eventually… but it will take a few days to be thoroughly dry depending on how dry the air is.

  5. Hi Christine,
    Just to let you know that I will send my piece that I have been playing with soon. there is a holdup however. This whole art thing can be SO FUNNY for a newbie like me. I really am CLUELESS! It’s good that I think that it is funny though, instead of frustrating. : ) Any way, the hold up is that I wanted to paint around the border of the piece and we had an old art kit lying around with a bunch of tubes of paints in it. Well, I really liked a certain color but it turned out to be an oil paint. What a mess! It won’t dry! Does it ever dry? If it EVER does, I will try to send it to you. : )

  6. Kathy, what a wonderful story! And how fun to know we are connected through our collage explorations. I’ve sometimes thought about taking my paternal grandmother’s maiden name — Von Bruckner! Lots of blessings on the playful time ahead. :-)