When I think of Mother’s Day and Art, there’s one artist that comes to mind instantly, Mary Cassatt. Mary was an impressionistic artist that had a style that was unlike many of the other artists of her time. Early in her career, she painted with oils and commissioned portraits mostly to fund her travel to Europe and further her art experience. It wasn’t until later in her life that she discovered a love for her subject and started concentrating on the use of watercolor and gouache, both sometimes finished with pastels. She used a variety of techniques with these mediums including drawing, painting, drypoint etching, aqua tinting, and monotype printing. Mary produced hundreds of portraits and soon developed a unique style that is definitely still recognizable today.
Mary loved to observe people during their daily life. She captured the simple and ordinary moments of her family, friends, and neighbors, being careful to trespass in their lives without disrupting their daily routine. Mary chose, predominately, women and children as her subjects in the later part of her life and painting career. She expressed the special bond between a mother and her child through her art. Oddly enough, she did not have any children of her own. Painting them may have been a way for her to express her yearning for motherhood. It also may have been a kind of therapy for her to deal with the likelihood, at her age, that she would never have children of her own. No one really knows. But for someone who had not physically experienced being a mother, she took the subject to new levels of realization. It would seem, she experienced motherhood by living through her artwork, thus, loving through her artwork.
It is amazing how we (artists) do just that at times. We live and love through our art and it shows in the work we produce. Mary is well remembered as one of the great portrait painters of her time. Not just painting to record a face, but a time, a moment, that was shared between two beings that had an inner relationship far before they were first introduced as mother and child.
I hope you will enjoy some of the artwork that is Mary Cassatt’s depicting the special bond between mother and child. Maybe you will be inspired to look around you at familiar faces and find a subject that you love and can uniquely express as you paint today! Enjoy!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Be sure to visit the Mary Cassatt website at http: www.marycassatt.org to see the complete collection of artwork by Mary Cassatt and a very thorough biography.