Day after day, the relentless call came to me “Look over here, create !” I was possessed by the early morning scene that stretched across the eastern sky each day on my walk and the earlier I went out, the more beautiful it became. The yellows and oranges were bursting as the fog gently hovered just above the damp ground on each cool mid-spring morning. After a few days I succumbed to the call.
I had a piece of board in the studio that I had hand primed with a burgundy pastel primer and had been waiting for the right time to put into use. I spent about 5 days working on this pastel painting, but four days out of the five I had truly decided in the middle of the night to fold it up and just throw it away. “Just be done-give it up, throw it away!” the night voices would tell me. But my heart spoke another song, the same song it spoke when the scene called my name, so I persevered.
And on the last day, as the scene then became the painting, it spoke again, this time in silence. I added the final touches and walked away.
It’s been exactly 2 years since I visited South Africa with my husband and other believers from our church on a mission trip to minister to children and teens who were orphans due to the AIDS epidemic there. This was a place I said I would never go, my feet were fine in Ohio but when you hear the call, you go. We prepared VBS activities in advance for children and held the day long events at different orphan centers each day, reaching out to hundreds of kids who were eager to participate.
At the end of the trip as I boarded the plane, I thought about the kids we met and wondered how many had known their mothers before passing away from that horrible disease. The reason I mention mothers is the fact that very few of the kids have fathers at home. They either never knew them or many of the fathers leave home in shame due to not being able to provide for their family. Most of these kids live with grandmothers or other caregivers in the area and they attend orphan centers for schooling, food and other opportunities through an organization that we worked with called Horizon International based in Indiana.
We sponsor a teen age boy that attends one of the orphan centers there and had the privilege of meeting him! I wondered if he had known his mother, how old was he when she passed away and what did she look like? I imagined her and drew a pencil sketch in my journal on the trip home. “Image Of A Mother” was what I thought she would look like, or she could be any of the other mothers that these children had lost.
After that, I had a little bit of culture shock coming back to the USA and wanted to retreat into my studio alone and draw for awhile. In order to create a little record, I used charcoal on a medium toned paper and drew a larger “Image Of A Mother” from the small sketch in my book. I also drew some of the other children in their happy raw form the same way from photographs that I had taken, all are framed and in my studio. The other drawings can be located in my gallery here: Drawings-African Inspired
It humbles me to think about the privilege it was to meet these people who were contented with so little. The pictures from other side of the world became reality for me during that time in South Africa.