For Mother’s Day, I decided to paint a portrait of my mom’s office. She has been working on setting up a room of her own. She used to share this office with my dad. My dad’s organized chaos quickly took over: piles of blue folders and post-it notes, aged and aging monitors, brimming folders and suitcases, and him in his rolling chair. My dad hasn’t used the office since his death.
My dad left behind [read: created] an amazing legacy of thought provocation, compassion, research, and…documents. He was a thorough and meticulous, literally illegible note taker. He put all his effort into everything he did. One of his effort’s manifestations was the contents of his office, which he stopped using, suddenly, in February, 2014.
My mom, equally meticulous and thorough, organizes differently, especially now that she wants the office to be ready in case she’s not there to use it. This context is as unavoidable as taxes. Of course, there’s more there. She has made a place to get away from her kids.
I’m reconsidering the title of this piece, “Mom’s Office” because then it’s not hers. This is not a pipe. This is not an office. I like that.
A woman of good taste, she wanted some of my art in her space. There’s a corner in the office where the desk meets the wall in an unappealing way. She put some flowers there (fake, because of our cat, though she has an impressive green thumb). I thought a portrait of her office would fit nicely in that corner, as well.
I like portraits of things next to those things. For example, this lamp I drew in 2014 would look great next to a lamp:
I like the play with Magritte’s “This is not a pipe.” Yes, this is not a pipe, but if you put it next to one, you can look slightly to the side, and there is a pipe!
This might be the final. I think so. I need to figure out how to sign this bad boy. It’s my second painting. It’s the first painting that is mine from conception to execution. That’s a horrible word. Also, by calling it mine, I don’t mean to take a part of it away from my mom. It’s her office. This is not an office.
I like the angles of the room. I messed with the light source (or layered attempts at figuring it out), and opened the blinds. I made it night time (not bright outside), so the interior shadows could make enough sense. The spacing is off: The space between the windows and the ceiling should be greater, which would bring the desk down, like in the source photo. There’s a lot of black space at the bottom of the painting. I’m okay with that. There’s enough logic, at least at first glance, to trick the eye. This is not a pipe.
Here’s some reflection on the process:
The final painting. I still want to paint the sides of the canvas a bit more.
Happy Mother’s Day!
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