Why I Painted Three Women - Second Thoughts

Three Women  2005  oil on canvas  36” x 24”

Why I painted Three Women doesn’t seem to matter so much anymore.  I look at it and remember why I painted it, but I also see things I wasn’t able to see before.  I first wrote  about this painting that I painted in 2005 - on August 24, 2009.  Wow!  It strikes me that I must have been in some sort of “zone” similar to one I might get into when I’m painting - if I’m lucky - where it just kind of comes out from a feeling place rather than thinking.  Often when I paint a painting that I think is really special, I look at it and think or say to myself, how did I ever do that?  This is how I feel after reading this entry again after four years.  

The painting Three Women is based on a quick sketch I did while recalling a nightmare that I had the night before.  It was a horrible dream - something about a funeral.  It was icy cold and dark and I was alone.  I entered some room as I was trying to get out and I saw “them” over in the corner: my three women: my mother was leaned back in a chair or wheelchair looking very angry and blaming;  my grandmother (who was ancient when she died - 10 years before dream) was behind her and seemed sort of dead, but not glad to see me anyway at this ice cold greenish-blue room at the funeral; and my sister who seemed somehow to be “with” them.  

Sketch Three Women marker on paper 8 x 5 inches

Back then I wrote about all the bitchy women in my life and how it has been a struggle for me because I always seemed vulnerable to this type.  I am so pleased after rereading this piece to feel like I’m not like that anymore.  They were who they were and it is not my fault.  I always loved them and hoped everyday that they would accept me, but that never happened.  I am pleased to report that I now have a few really truly nice women friends.  I attribute my change in outlook in a large part to my daughter-in-law.  She is such a wonderful, smart, funny, nice and loving person - and she loves me!  If I were somehow crippled inside and unable to love her for the beautiful person that she is, that wouldn’t be her fault - and - nor was it mine.

Actually, when I look at this zoom image now, I see more than the ice-cold anger of my mother.  I see someone in a lot of pain - like myself when I painted her. Now, the image of my sister reminds me of me  still loving them and, the image of my grandmother reminds me of the hurt wounded little me of all ages who needed to be loved.

So, instead of this being an angry exposé of a painting, I now see it as a loving one! 

Mother 1994 gouache on paper inches

Mother 1997 painted plaster on wire  18 x 10 x 4 inches

Mother  May 9, 1994

You used to seem so huge.

Your size

Your vibes

Were so much bigger than mine.

You were like a great neon sign

Flashing your message:

     Don’t ask me

     Don’t need me

     Don’t whine.

Now I see you

How you really were.

     Your vacant eyes

     Your empty breast

     Your hollow womb

You were like a living tomb.

At least now

I can see how

You couldn’t love me.

As for being a mother myself, basically, as soon as I saw my first son and then again my second, I just knew - I just knew - that it is possible to be a good mother and I was going to do it.    I saved myself because of them - so I could be a good mother.  I know I made a lot of mistakes but the fact is, I know that they know - that I love them.

originally published: August 30, 2013


© Trixie Pitts 2009