Meredith Moss Art

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4 The Love of . . . Family

written by Meredith

June 16, 2024

This collection of four paintings was created in response to a Call for Art for Creative Brush Fine Art Studios and Gallery titled “4 The Love Of. . .”

Exhibit Dates: June 9th – July 20th

Opening Reception: June 9th 2:00-6:00

Inspiration

The concept is that each artist chooses one word. However, each word must be unique — no duplicates! For example, my first choice for a word was “Love” which had already been selected by another artist. My second word “Family” is what I used. And, the words chosen are exclusive not only for the current year but also for all previous years of the show. This year is the fourth annual show.

Each artist uses his/her inspiration word to create four paintings (which is why the numeral 4 is used). Each piece of art is created using identical square panels that are 1 1/2-5/8″ deep. In preceding shows, the panels were all 10″x10″. However, this year artists were given the option to use 8″x8″ or 12″x12″ panels as well.

Materials

I created my four artworks as oil paintings on 8″x8″ panels. Truth be told, I’d first chosen the concept for the paintings before I figured out the word. Coming from a fashion design background, that is probably natural. Who knows, though.

To me, using hands was a natural metaphor for connection. And, I’d been working on improving my depictions of hands (see my M&M sketches). However, those drawings were in graphite (pencil) and didn’t include any color. Still, hands were the subject that made the most sense to me.

As this project was for my oil painting studio, I chose to work in oil paints. My oil painting teacher, Mary Reilly, asked me why I wasn’t working in colored pencils. Oddly, I hadn’t even considered any other medium. Mary also thought I was nuts, because when I showed her the partially completed paintings she noticed all the hands. Hands are a notoriously difficult thing for most artists to portray.

Family

When figuring the subjects and composition for each piece, my intent was to address different types of family relationships. Family can mean different things to various people. So, there are infinite perspectives. To best communicate the concept, I chose a traditional route which would serve as a metaphor.

The Paintings

Eternal Love

Conventionally, starting a family begins with a romantic relationship that leads to marriage. It is a partnership for life. And the wedding rings symbolize infinity. The hands are mine and my husband’s. The idea was to create an interesting composition using hands while highlighting the wedding rings.

Eternal Love, oil on panel, 8″x8″

My reference photo for “Eternal Love” was one I took myself. I used a filming lamp called Canvas which allowed me to rest my smartphone camera on a lighted ring projected downward. And thank goodness for self-timers. The 2-second option wasn’t enough so I increased to the 12-second option. As you can see, our hands and arms were rather intertwined, so it took a few seconds to get my hands back into position. We took about a dozen photos against a dark grey fabric.

I chose a few photos with potential and used the best parts of each to create a Photoshopped image from which to paint. However, because my engagement and wedding rings are unique, I changed my rings to more traditional settings. Also, I added a more colorful deep blue background to represent loyalty which would contrast well against the orange cast of the flesh tones.

New Love

Eternal Love, oil on panel, 8″x8″

Often the next phase of a family journey is adding members. For this piece, my friends Joe and Lisa permitted me to use a photo (taken by Lisa) of their newborn grandson grasping Joe’s finger. My original objective for this painting was to span the generational gap between grandparents and grandchildren. For my reference image, I replaced my friend’s finger with one from a much older person. (Others have shared with me that the adult hand doesn’t look quite that elderly and could be a parent.)

For the background of “New Love”, I chose purple. It is non-gender-specific unlike pink or blue. And, I used a deeper shade of purple so it would coordinate with the other pieces in the collection.

Giving Love

Giving Love, oil on panel, 8″x8″

One of the iconic gifts parents (often mothers) receive from children is a bouquet of dandelions. While those a bit OCD about a green lawn deem these flowers as weeds, we all agree that kids are motivated by love which trumps all.

For this piece, the composition was fully developed in Photoshop. I compiled four separate images for the composition: the mother’s hand, the child’s hand, the dandelions, and the background. Ultimately, the background was altered to include more yellow than the reference image. The “Giving Love” colors — dark green with a pop of yellow — were chosen to convey nature, freshness, and innocence.

Puppy Love

Last, but definitely not least, is the concept that pets are family members, too. For many people, pets who offer unconditional love can be the greatest love of all. The idea for shaping the hands as a heart was one of the first ideas for this project. In developing this image, I debated whether to use a cat or dog. As dogs are often considered “man’s best friend”, I used my own dog, Macy, as the model.

hands formed in a heart holding a small Tibetan Terrier dog
Puppy Love, oil on panel, 8″x8″

Next, my husband (who is 14″ taller than I am) stood over me with the camera as I formed my hands into a heart. Simultaneously, we tried to entice Macy to get in the right spot between my hands. That just didn’t work. So, again this version was Photoshopped starting with a photo of my hands in the heart shape. Then I chose a photo of Macy in her first few days with us, but then slightly modified the position of her paws so we were sorta “holding hands.”

The red in “Puppy Love” was the first background I painted. It was a spontaneous decision, and I suppose I was playing off of the fact that many of Macy’s accessories are pink but a deeper color was needed to contrast with my hands. And red, as we all know, is the color that symbolizes love.

Wrapping It Up

Because these pieces were all painted on panels, framing was unnecessary. All four of these pieces are available for sale. Or perhaps you would like your own personalized version as a commission. Let me know your ideas, and we can brainstorm them together.

These were my four ideas for representing “Family.” What other visuals do you associate with the concept of family?


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