“Beautiful in every way.”
“A really warm and tender portrait.”
“In fact, she is sexy in a different flavor.”
“I love it! Excellent work!”
“She has her weight in gold, and maybe she is your best girlfriend.”
“That’s beautiful! My Mom’s a big lovely lady. Nice to see them honored this way.”
“Thank you for proving that loveliness comes in many forms.”
I finished this painting earlier this week. It is part of a series of six that I am doing called “Eshet Chayil” from the Hebrew, meaning Woman of Valor. It is found in Proverbs 31 and describes strong, empowered, brilliant, deep and beautiful women. I have a few of these women friends, and they all live in a deep place in my heart.
The friend in this painting took a while to agree to pose for me. As with most of us women, she had trepidations about revealing this part of herself and had learned long ago that she was to hide her flaws, however superficial they may be. The process in each of these paintings is about self-revelation more than anything else, and coming to a place where we love and celebrate who we are, exactly as we are. It means we step out, do something daring and decide it’s time to tell all the horrible people in our lives who've put us down that they can take a flying leap. They don’t get to determine how we feel about ourselves anymore.
What my girlfriend did for me, and for herself in posing, was so brave. She ignored all the negative men, women, loved ones and strangers alike, and said in a big beautiful way that she is beautiful now. She said she is more than just right and good, she is this amazingly gifted person who is wise, strong, full of love, and utterly gorgeous.
This particular painting is doing wonderful things since I posted it…. The response to it has been incredible. And I have been pleasantly surprised to see many of the positive comments coming from men. We can still be caught off guard by affirmation from unexpected places….
I have known my friend for about 25 years. We are very close – like sisters. She has always been a straight-talker, completely committed to her calling in life, and she has a capacity to love fiercely. It’s why I like hanging out in her company. And her painting is becoming a healing thing, beginning with her, and me, and then all the others who are responding to it.
And so it is goes full circle. What started with just her and I, is now being given back to her from the people who are touched by it and leaving their comments. It is affirmation that she did the right thing, and that she is more beautiful than she knows. It is affirmation to me that I can paint the beauty on the surface and the beauty beneath the surface. I can get to essences and other people will see it. I can put on paper what I see in such a way that real beauty is given its rightful place. In portraying her, I am seeing my own calling in a way that I hadn’t before. This thing I do has the capacity to confront, to ask questions, to affirm and to bring healing and peace. I have the ability to take something and bring it my own healing hand. In turn, when it is finished (or just beginning), it has the power to speak to all of us in the myriad of ways each of us might need to hear.
It’s an amazing thing, to be part of that circle.