There is a quilt on our bed that my mom made for us when we got married. It’s made with batik fabric (fabric hand-dyed using a wax-resist technique), so each patch is different from the rest. It’s the sort of visual feast that I could look at for hours (if I had the time). In some spots, the dye is particularly saturated, or it’s more green than in other areas. Elsewhere, the colors have mixed spontaneously into unexpected shades of magenta and blue and purple that end up reminding me of the sunset in Minnesota when I was 17 years old. Indeed, as a visual object alone, the quilt is a treasure.
Then I start thinking about the unseen layers of the quilt. How it’s filled with my mom’s love. A warm and symbolic way for her to wrap her kid up in a comforting embrace and make everything okay forever, even though her daughter is supposedly grown up (because hey!, moms never stop being moms and daughters never stop being daughters). And it’s a reminder of Grandma, too: The Matriarch Quilter, with her contagious curiosity and her unfailing sense of humor. (Hi Grandma!, if you’re reading this). And it’s a sparkly little beam of excitement that perhaps someday, I’ll have a kid that I make a quilt for. (And then I find myself already hoping, with some desperation, that my kid will be able to feel the love that’s layered into their quilt — that love that feels too big to express, no matter how many times I try to).
Beholding this quilt; snuggling under it; sharing it with my husband and our cats; seeing it every morning in the different light of fall, winter, spring, and summer — it’s one of those deeper-than-you’d-expect experiences that comes with living life with your eyes and heart open. It’s one of those experiences that I wanted to share with others.
So I painted this:
I’m sure there’s a ton of skeptics who, if they heard me and saw what I make, would think that I’m just a sentimentalist who gushes nonsense about marshmallow fluff and ponies and unicorns that eat rainbows. But I’m not.
I just hope this painting gets you to see and feel a little bit about what I’m always talking about with this blog. There are a lot of interesting things to be seen and felt in the world. As an artist (and a human), I always find myself wanting to celebrate and explore the complex beauty of the everyday things that surround me. I can’t help it. That’s why I set out to paint this. Because the quilt inspired me. I wanted to play around with the colors and textures and patterns of an object that I love, just to experience what happened along the way.
So, don’t be afraid to look at things — to really look, and experience how they affect you. You never know where “looking” will take your mind and your spirit.