This sweet face has been keeping me company in the studio for over 3 years. She was always supposed to be Mary, as I had created the immaculate heart with texture medium and attached the frame to the canvas before I even began. But, the pieces just never all came together. At one point, I had even sanded the whole thing down except for some elements in her face that I really liked. The more I sanded, the more I liked her rough appearance. I liked that she seemed to veil and reveal at the same time. It was my goal to keep with that theme until I was finally happy with a result that was on the sweet side without being cutesie.
This was her unfinished phase, and the face that kept me company for so very long. I cannot explain it, but there were elements about her that I just did not want to alter. I knew I had to fix some obvious deformities in sizes and shapes. But it was her essence that I loved. She was the young Mary... the sweet, pure, innocent Mary that was yet untouched by the sorrows that would follow. Yet, there's a wisdom in her expression as well. I wanted her to stay her, and not get lost in the paint. Thus, I stayed away from this canvas. Occasionally, I would pick her up, dust her off, and imagine changes. But, in the end, I would always prop her back on her special easel by the door, and let her keep me company some more.
Ironically, she was the first piece I pulled out in the new little studio. I placed her on my work canvas, and began to redefine some features with my pencils. I love her sanded places, and didn't want to disrupt that effect. And I also had this ongoing obsession with wanting to add gold leaf to the piece. I guess the distressed appearance made me think of old religious art and sculpture with the paint and gold chipping off. So, I decided to go for it. I had long "felt" a crown on her head... there, but not there. So.... it began. A little sketching, a little gold leafing, a little painting, and A LOT of sanding.
In the end, she is not the lost in an old painting I expected, but she does retain the essence I fell in love with three years ago. I am so thrilled that she is the first piece I completed in this new chapter of the journey, in my new little laundry room studio. She speaks to me, and I think she was ready for me to let her go... and knew that I was ready to move on as well.
I am happy to report that she was very well received, and she was sold within minutes to a dear friend who will honor this piece, knowing everything it means to me. She will live at a lovely rectory with my son's godfather, and I will get to visit from time to time. I couldn't ask for more. :)