Empty Nest

Sep 27, 2018

Whenever I see an abandoned birds nest I inevitably pick it up and find a place for it in my home. Some are fragile, loosely constructed with twigs and air. Others tightly woven from horsehair plucked from a nearby paddock. They connote to me hope and sadness...and utility.

So when a friend of mine approached me after having watched my foray into figurative work and asked if he might commission a painting I was pleased. But all the more so since the subject would be his daughter, who was just entering her first year in college.

I always worry about the image I might be working with when I work on commission. People are rightfully in love with their conception. In this case, I understood completely why Joe wanted this image memorialized, who wouldn't?

Joe and his wife Amy invited me to their home to discuss options. I showed them a number of compositions and dimensions. I explained the limitations of the image itself (remember .bmp files?) and came to an agreement.

I approach these projects with no small amount of trepidation. After all, I'm trying to capture the essence of someone I may hardly know or don't know at all. How can I do justice to their emotional attachment to the image let alone the person?

My children are all grown and have lives of their own. I'm fortunate to live close to one, but the other two live very far away. I have a wall now with all my favorite photos of them from babies to adults. These photos fill my empty nest. I hope that Joe and Amy feel Elise's presence, or at least her four-year-old self when they look at the tumble of hair and the little clutching hands. And that they remember how she filled their nest and how she will soar in years to come.

Painting: Elise © Lissa Banks 2018