The other day I found a large colored pencil and graphite drawing I had done of my son, Jesse and my daughter, Annie, when they were ages three and 6 months, respectively. Because it was so large I had never framed it and it had become badly torn in places. I had always loved the drawing and felt that throwing it out was not an option. After getting past the sacrilege of thinking I should cut it up and create new, smaller and re-designed pieces from it, I picked up my scissors and cut. Once I started there was no option but to finish what I had started.
As I cut and pasted and altered the existing colors of the work, I thought of how each child had changed over the years and of how alike they still were from the way I had depicted them at that time. I contemplated, how my approach to creating art had changed since then. Tender thoughts of that time in my life flooded over me. The scent of baby lotion and talcum powder wafted up to me and I remembered the incredible softness of their skin at that age. As each thought emerged, I was shifted back in time, standing by the bed where they lay, sleeping, watching them with as much overflowing love as I had felt when I had originally been inspired to create the picture. I felt myself brushing back the dampness of their hair and listening to their gentle breathing as they slept.
The process of reinventing their portraits was validating and healing. It filled me with joy and re-connected me with a precious time frame I had forgotten. With each piece of the drawing that I cut and evaluated new placement and then glued into place, I felt a deep satisfaction at the significance of these changes: filling in some of the negative spaces with warmth and brightness; honoring and appreciating the details that created us as a family and re-designing old ways of interacting with each other to construct a new way to express the fabric of our lives.