Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sleeping Daughter

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I think it is very important for artists to work from life instead of photographs and this was brought home again as I painted these studies as my daughter slept. Not only is so much more seen with the eye but I want to be a painter of living things. It's a chance to experience the shifting cool hued light from the window play off her perfect skin. To watch blues and greens tint pale hollows before the forms turn under rosy cheeks. Color drains from her lids as she loses herself in sleep but in an instant she's ruddy-colored again and flipping her head back and forth. I paint the thumb back in again as she settles and, no....the palette knife comes out and I scrape the thumb out again -- oil is a fluid medium where images can easily be pushed around. Painted heads are what is left over from afternoon sessions spent watching perfect forms perfectly alive even in sleep. And now she's in a different pose and it's onto to a new sketch or back to an unfinished one close in posture. Then her eyes are open and I'm the one being watched. Years from now I'll enjoy pouring over photographs but for now I'll enjoy sitting with her when she sleeps -- the paintings an instant reminder.

I recognize hand signals that my infant daughter sends as she sleeps because my two-year-old used the same ones. Clutching and blanket-sucking signal a sensitivity to sound and foreshadow a fitful sleep but when my wife returns to top off the tired baby with a good nursing then she's knocked out flat on her back, hands open and arms stretched wide.

Baby Taco
In a bunting she called a baby taco, our maternity nurse could fold a cotton blanket perfectly around our new daughter. Flailing arms and legs remained tucked in tight, and with her thick black hair and olive skin our Eskimo baby slept contentedly in her cocoon. When we attempted to fold the wiggling limbs into the blanket our version of a human origami was so pitiful that the wrap needed more attention than the infant. As the baby got older, anything within reach was pulled up into her mouth and then we (thought we) had to worry that the blanket wouldn't allow her to breathe. If her bedroom seemed a little too quiet a welcome sight was the little girl out cold and arms up in the surrender posture.

-Doug Rugh

This journal entry is now available as part of a compilation in ebook form:

Epub and PDF formats
102 Entries
26,700+ Words
95 Full-Color Illustrations (Oil paintings by the author.)
2006 - 2010

More information here.

-Doug Rugh

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