This commission came first, from some friends of ours. Their little niece, who is the same age as my little girl, was killed in an accident recently. This was my first posthumous work, and my first time painting someone who I haven't actually seen before. It was difficult on both accounts. We had to send images back and forth as I was painting, trying to make sure I was getting the face right. When I've seen and talked to the person myself, there's a point where it just magically clicks and I know I've got it. So this was an interesting process.
And then, of course, on an emotional level this was a new experience as well. I guess I would put this more in the category of spiritual/religious work. I have several friends who have lost children. I wondered how a piece like this would affect the parents. Would it be more difficult than good? So I had to make it a matter of prayer to get the right image, the right feeling. And I know I did have help. The ideas came directly and easily.
I ended up dressing her in white (she loved the beach) and using the circle/square symbolism we see sometimes in our temples (with the circle being heaven and the square being the four corners of the earth).
And finally, one of six portraits I've been working on for the Bawden family. I'm trying to finish this and one other in the next few weeks and then the series will finally be done!