Each time I do a painting it seems I find a new favorite. This portrait of a Haitian woman was so much fun to paint, and even though I've never met her I absolutely fell in love.
As a dental hygienist I have the joy of meeting a lot of different people, and after 21 years in the same office many of them feel as much like friends as patients. It's through one of those relationships that this painting came into being.
I was talking with a patient one day a year or so ago about a painting I was working on. It was the portrait that I did of Frankie, the beautiful women I had met while on a missions trip to West Virginia. After describing her face and her story and the feeling of closeness that I felt to her while working on the painting, Mark shared his story about being on a missions trip to Haiti, and a woman he had met there and how the photos he had of her displayed the same qualities I was describing to him about Frankie. Basically, there's just something about that beautiful face! I told him I would love to see the photos and so, 6 months later, he came in and brought the photos with him. He was so right about her image. You could see the beauty of her soul right there looking at you.
I didn't start on her right away. I was a bit nervous about trying to paint her. I taped the photos to my wall and looked at them often for months. It was after I completed the painting of the reflection in a wine glass that I decided to give her a try.
It brought me so much joy to create her image on canvas. I'm not sure if every artist feels a sense of relationship with their work, but I sure do and it's the coolest thing. I just called her "Lady", because I didn't know her name. Every time I'd sit down to work on her I'd say "hello Lady"!
The little that I do know about her is this: She's in her 80's and lives and works high upon a hill in Haiti. She is the primary caretaker of her son who is in his 60's and is blind and handicapped. A doctor travels to her house once a month to check on her son. (This is who Mark was helping on his trip and how he came to meet her) You can't reach her house by car. They drove as far as they could and then had to hike the remainder of the distance. Her face and hands are those of a woman who has worked hard all of her life. Her eyes are kind and gentle. My friend Shirley, who I paint with every Tuesday, said "I'd love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her". I would too.
One day when I was over Shirley's painting, the sun was coming in the window directly behind me and as I was looking at the photo in the direct sunlight I was thrilled to notice that there was a child in the background, holding the curtain back and peeking out at the person who had taken the photo. Adding her to the painting gave the composition a sense of depth and added another layer to the story that the picture was telling. I was so excited when I got to show Mark, thinking that I had somehow discovered something secret. He, of course, already knew she was there. I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to paint this beautiful woman and to come to know a bit of her story.
I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I am an artist, a wife, a mom, a hygienist, a youth leader, a masterpiece, a mess, a woman. I am seeking to bring glory to God through my artwork and my life.