I chose to paint a portrait of my mother, sister, and I in the midst of the Florida Keys. When thinking about my childhood and artistic development, my mom and sister are present in nearly every memory. In this piece, we are standing amongst palm trees and greenery with our summer vacation condo faintly in blue behind us. In the simplistic style of Jacob Lawrence and also to better depict the feeling of a memory, I chose to paint in a much different manner than I’m use to.
My mother is an incredibly talented, although modest, artist, and I have always amazed by her drawings. As a child, I would spend hours carefully turning the pages of her old sketchbooks and unrolling the beautiful artwork that was curled tight. I remember feeling as though I were touching treasure. She was incredibly motivating and encouraged my me and my sister to pursue all forms of our creativity. While in the Keys, I remember countless runway shows in the living room, hours upon hours in a ceramics studio, and afternoons building sandcastles on the beach.
The sunglasses, although minor details, are also very symbolic for me. My sister and I are night and day. She’s less than two years older, but has blonde hair, green eyes and fair skin. I received mom’s Italian skin tone, dark hair, and dark eyes. Her favorite childhood sunglasses were stars, while mine were hearts, and as silly as it may sound, in our grown up lives and personalities today, these shapes still suit us perfectly.
I have always been intrigued by the fact that although we are both my mother’s daughters, and although we were exposed to nearly all the same artistic and creative activities as children, we have always had incredibly different artistic styles and outlooks. She has always preferred the mathematical, analytical, and representational work. I have always preferred the abstract and emotional approach. She chose architecture for her career path, while I chose graphic design (and now art education). We do, however, share one common theme and passion with our artwork – the Florida Keys. And we both have our wonderful mother to thank for so many years of memorable experiences there together.