I struggled with what to focus on for this year's 52 WEEKS project but my daughter has been subtly urging (harassing) me to paint portraits as I haven't in such a long time and it was through portraiture that I got into art college originally so many years ago. It feels like such a huge challenge but I decided to do it anyway and to treat it just like the wildflowers and animals by not putting too much pressure on myself for perfection and to enjoy a more loose and painterly approach.
I decided that I wanted to focus on portraits of women, to share images of women who have affected me in some way. These women are my heroes. To me they are saints. And because I enjoyed the 7x14 inch canvases I painted on several years ago I decided to use that shape again as it tends to push me a little more creatively.
For the first piece, since Christmas so recently passed and is still on my mind, I decided to paint the virgin Mary, not as a typical Mary but rather as a young, tired woman like so many of us as young mothers. My Mary is blonde because my girls and I are all blonde. I considered adding a copper leaf halo but I think I like her just the way she is**. I also began to think about how each and every person is a hero because of those daily, small acts that are performed (both willingly and unwillingly). And I want to remind every woman that I know that we all carry a hero within us as it seems to be something we tend to forget.
**NOTE: She ended up with a painted halo instead :)