When I look at this photograph I imagine a twenty-something-year-old wandering through an abandoned barn, enjoying a spontaneous afternoon outside. I visualize humid air weaving through the open doorways and cracks in the siding. I imagine a couple having a picnic, snapping a few pictures, and enjoying an afternoon the way most twenty-something-year-olds do, wasting the day away. This person is foreign, yet the photograph carries a layer of deja vu as I sense recognition just out of reach. I look at this picture and catch a glimpse of my Mom. I see the curly, brown hair, the familiar profile, but the familiarity lasts only a second as it disappears into a time when my Mom wasn’t my Mom.
This image is my Mom even younger than I am now. It’s difficult to image my parents young, dating, being spontaneous, and irresponsible. It’s difficult to conceive, this young model and photographer as my Mom and my Dad, yet there they are frozen at a time I will never know them.
I remember being blown away when my parents would get out their old photo albums, pointing out close family members disguised by their youth. Hearing them swapping stories, reminiscing, while pointing at yellowed, muted photographs that could have only existed “back then”. There were my parents, dressed up for parties, making silly faces, having fun with their friends. The album was a flip book, changing as the years passed.
Years later, as my Dad began scanning in all of their old photographs into their computer, I discovered a set of more artistic, special photographs, portraits of my Mom, taken by my Dad.
They had a completely different feel about them. I could feel emotion emanating from the photograph. Such care was taken to find the light and crop it just right. My Mom was beautiful, young, and incredibly mysterious. It evoked inspiration, and I quickly loaded the now scanned and digital copy of the photograph on my thumb drive.
I later found myself at the art store, looking at canvases, devising ways to transform this captured moment into a painting. I started layering oils and encaustic to recreate the peeling walls of the barn. I carefully selected fabric and re-constructed the stripes on her shirt. I got lost in the painting, I was sucked into the unknown of my Mom before me, the Mom that existed only as Anne. I wondered about her friends, activities, and hobbies. I imagined her in my stages of life, and how my children would feel the same about me as I do about her, perpetually stuck as Mom.
Mom is only three letters but it is a big word. Mom means love, hugs, cookies, laughter, tucked in at night, art lessons, inspiration, caring, kindness, travel mate, confidant, chauffeur, problem solver, shopping partner, chef, friend, and molder of me. Mom is a loaded word, an endless word, that grows with every passing year. She is responsible for my semi-green eyes, slight dimple chin, square feet, poor vision, addiction to ice cream and Cheez-its, goofiness, laid back attitude, forgetful mind, urge to travel, love of books and the beach, artistic ability, and kindness. The list could go on for days, with so many more traits I haven’t even discovered, perpetually making the list longer.
My Mom tucked me in every night, took me to the library to pick out books, and she showed me how to create. My strongest connection to my Mom is the creative nature she gave me and fostered in me as I grew up into a mini version of her, two art teachers swapping stories, driving around in our Mini Coopers (my blue Rupert with her red Bert). She brought home art supplies for me, she provided me with coloring book after coloring book, she never hesitated to sit down and show me a new technique. I still constantly go to her with questions and advice about my artwork, or life in general.
She is soothing. I have never met someone who could be so calm in stressful situations. She is my rock. As soon as I am in her presence after a stressful day, I feel calm. I vent to her, get advice, and move on from issues I thought would keep me up that night. I call her at least once a week just to hear that calm, cool, and collected voice before I tell her about my day.
My Mom is the greatest Mom because she is mine. She knows me inside and out, she knows just from the tone of my voice what kind of day I had. I may not know who she was pre-Mom, but I know her now. I know she and my Dad did an amazing job raising three kids, and I can only I hope I do half the job they did.
This is only a small thank you for giving me life, raising me, and turning me into the person I am today. Thanks and I love you.
- Visual Journal
- Hot glue gun
- Hot glue sticks
- Mod Podge
- Paint brush
- Laser printed picture
This visual journal page is a reflection of my Mom as well as the painting I painted of the photograph. I used the leftover pieces of fabric from the painting and glued them down using a hot glue gun to create the base. I didn’t want to entirely cover the page, so I decided to glue the fabric all the way to the edge on the right side page, but cut them short and fray the edges before I glued the fabric on the left side page. I started at the bottom, and worked my way up, and overlapped the strips of fabric just slightly.
Once I had my base I decided to do a Mod Podge image transfer on top (to read how to create a Mod Podge transfer go here). I painted the Mod podge on the image, let it dry, and repeated this again. I painted another layer, placed it face down, and let it dry. I was excited. I had never done a transfer on fabric, I just knew it would look amazing… however it was a semi-failure. The image didn’t stick, most of the colors were overpowered by the fabric, and I was left with pieces of white paper stuck to my beautiful fabric… I had no idea what I would do to fix it.
I really wanted a semi-transparent look so you could see the fabric underneath, so I went to image transfer plan B, a tape transfer (to read how to do a tape transfer go here). I placed the packaging tape on the image, burnished the back, put it under water, and peeled the paper off. It looked perfect, but would it cover up my Mod Podge fail?
As I placed the image down I realized why this was only a semi-fail. While the Mod Podge transfer didn’t work, it did create an interesting texture behind my tape transfer. The white walls of the barn suddenly showed up, and I could see a lot more detail. Initially I tried using rubber cement to glue the image down, but it wouldn’t adhere to the fabric. I ended up placing a few dots of hot glue and carefully sticking the image down. If you use hot glue wait for it to dry just a little, to prevent the tape from melting.
Create a dedication page to your Mom. Whether your relationship is good, bad, or unknown, reflect on your Mom.
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