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Birthing Images | Lovejoy Gallery
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Toward the end of my first pregnancy, I was over a week late, and found that the only thing I could do was to sit and wait for the baby to be born. No one had mentioned how incredibly desolate and surreal that last waiting phase of pregnancy was. I had prepared for the excitement of labor, but not the solitude and endless twilight of waiting for labor. In the last few days I became so fed up with waiting, I decided to paint. I allowed myself complete freedom to just let the form come. What arrived was a visualization of a crowning babies head. Once I realized that this is what I was painting, I began to meditate more intently on it. Hoping that the sympathetic magic of depiction would bring on labor. I wish I could say that it worked, I still will never be certain. But I drew the flow of water, and within a day my water broke, and I began another slow and unexpected episode of four days of labor, to give birth to my oldest son, Eli.

At the end of my next pregnancy, now two and a half weeks late, I found myself remembering the first painting, and I decided that I would do a second. Perhaps it would work. Originally the crown of the head in this image was very much more visible, as it had been drawn in, mostly patterns of pen on white paper. But it seemed two stark and not accurate, so I painted in the rich brown tones of a dark haired baby. The dark and deep intensity of this image,  matches the intensity of my second son, Izzy. He was born three weeks late, and was clearly an old soul from the moment he arrived.

The third painting did not happen at the end of the pregnancy. I had an opportunity to paint with some friends during a girls night out, when I was about five months pregnant with my third child. I had not yet done the ultrasound to find out the gender. There was a part of me that was settling myself to the possibility that I would have a third boy, and would be the mother of sons. I found myself gravitating to the pink paint, which I never use. At the time we joked that is was surely a sign that this baby would be a girl. Weeks later I found out that the baby was a girl. I was ashamed at how happy I was. I love my boys, but I was somehow so deeply thrilled to have a girl also. This was my pregnancy painting for my daughter Hannah.

Three paintings, three children. These paintings belong to my children, and will be there’s when they are adults.

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Painting Journal

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”

Martha Graham
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