Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dooce's Favorites. The Story behind the Bangladesh Series.

Earlier this year, I was beyond thrilled when Heather Armstrong featured a portrait I created of her daughter, Leta, on her blog.  Following that beautiful post, I was overwhelmed by the kindness, enthusiasm, and support that came forth from her amazing community and beyond.  I have been lucky enough to create dozens of beautiful portraits for clients all around the world who were introduced to my work thru Heather.  It's been incredibly satisfying, challenging, joyful! to be creating custom portraits for clients who were inspired by Leta's painting.

A couple of months ago, Heather shared her experiences when she traveled to Bangladesh with the Charity Every Mother Counts.   The stories she shared were emotional and compelling, accompanied as always by her  illustrious photos.

As I read the stories and learned more about the charity, I couldn't help but be completely enamored by the beautiful faces of the men, women and children she met on her trip.  As a portrait artist, I am always looking at people's faces - watching how the light reacts to their skin tone, noticing how their eyebrows frame their face, taking note of how they tend to tilt their head when they talk, what Presence they have.   The subjects of Heather's photos were beautiful, not only for their engaging eyes and sculpted lips, but the honest emotional content in every nuance of their expressions.

Could I ever, as a portrait artist, rise to a level where I can capture all those beautiful things that Heather captured in her photos - the light, the context, the story, the emotions - in a painting?  I spent many restless nights running those photos thru my head, dreaming of ways to translate her photos into paintings.

After a week of tossing and turning, I knew I had to try to paint these portraits.  But - Why?  Just to see if I can? It had to be bigger than that.  So I contacted Heather and proposed an idea: "Heather, you did so much for me, my family, and my business this year...Could I create a series of portraits based on some of your favorite photos from Bangladesh, and then we can auction the series of paintings on-line, with all of the proceeds going to the charity Every Mother Counts?"

Then I held my breath...

And Heather said "YES!!!"

So I pored thru her Bangladesh photos on Flickr and watched her video about a hundred times, coming up with a list of about 15 photos that kept stopping me again and again.   When Heather finalized the list, "Dooce's Favorites" were ready to be painted.

I began the first painting on August 3rd, and just finished the fifth painting over this past weekend.  In those two months, I have spent hundreds of hours in front of my easel, trying to do justice to my subjects, while considering the fact that an amazing woman has trusted me with her personal experiences, and believes in me to create something - mind blowing? spiritual? moving? pretty? - to the best of my ability!

So here we are - the five paintings are done, and I can't wait to share them with you.  The plan is to introduce a painting each day this week, and then start the auction on-line Monday October 10th. The auction will run for ten days, and all of the money raised (minus the auction site fees) will be going to Team Every Mother Counts ,  participating in the New York City Marathon on November 6th.

I don't know if these painting will inspire you the way they have inspired me, but I hope they do, and I hope you consider donating to the charity, even if you don't bid in the auction.  I couldn't get on a plane to see these strong-willed, able bodied, positive, and hard-working men, women and children in person, and I am so grateful that Heather DID go, and brought their story to my attention.  It made me realize and appreciate how lucky I was before, during, and after my two pregnancies.

(Detail, Painting five)

Every Mother Counts.  I want to count.  Women around the world want to count.  Their Children want to count.  Their husbands want them to count.  This auction could be small, it could be huge - who knows?  EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS, when it comes from the sense that You are part of Something Bigger.


Natasha said...

This is such a beautiful concept. Well done.

Sharon Tomlinson said...

So beautiful. I can't wait to see them all. I already know how wonderful they will be and I wish for a huge success with the auction. You are so brave.

Susan Roux said...

These are very moving. I like what you're doing.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, these are lovely. I follow Dooce as well :)

Jodi said...

absolutely beautiful!

Katrina Woznicki said...

The perfect mix of beauty and mission. Congratulations on bringing this to life.