My initial reaction was that I couldn’t possibly do it. It seemed so sad. I thought that doing the painting would make me feel sad. Then I reread her message.
The girl she was describing was a joyous and happy person. Andra listed the colors she liked best: pink, red, yellow, light blue and green. She told me how Helen loved flowers, ladybugs, rolly-pollies, butterflies, birds, the beach and sea creatures. She said that she wanted the painting to include Helen’s name as well as some of her loves.
I wrote back to Andra and, over a series of emails, we came to an agreement that I would do a painting for Helen. She wanted a painting that was larger than I usually do. After much thought, I committed to doing a 16 x 20 inch watercolour.
Andra was lovely throughout the process. She left the visual side of the painting entirely up to me. I showed her the initial rough sketch I had come up with and then she very, very patiently waited to see the final version. The painting took me several weeks to complete.
|My initial rough sketch when I was trying to figure out the contents and composition.|
|I started by painting the banner and then began adding all of the other elements.|
|Slowly but surely, I added all of the creatures and flowers.|
|With most of main elements in place, I started to pull the sky down and behind the flowers.|
|A detail from the centre of the painting|
|Details from the bottom of the painting - A snail, mushrooms, a heart-shaped rock and three rollie-pollies playing together on the rocks at the right hand side.|
Do you want to know something? I didn’t feel sad once while working on this painting. I felt happy. As I was working on it, I found myself thinking ‘Wouldn’t it have been nice to have met Helen and then I realized I did. I had met Helen “through” my painting.
After I sent photos of the completed painting to Andra, she responded within minutes: “Oh, my goodness...It is absolutely beautiful! Helen would have loved it! The painting is soooo Helen…” Mission accomplished. I had created a painting that was true to Helen. I burst into happy tears.
My painting was done for a beautiful, joyful little girl who loved the world and all those around her. This painting is a celebration of a wonderful person named Helen.