Saturday, February 16, 2013

My mother's painting

This may be the only time that I feature the work of an artist who is not me on this blog. My mother, Esther Geller, is an artist, in the "fine art" field rather than in my own commercial field. She is a graduate of the Boston Museum of  Fine Arts school and has been making art for over 70 years. She's 91 now and I am now involved in a project to catalogue all the art she has done and all the paintings which are in my parents' house and in her studio in downtown Natick, Mass. I've been photographing my mother's paintings when I can, over the years, and I have a stack of cards with descriptions and information about each piece written on each card. 

I've been going through my photographs and an old slide archive as well. These date from the late 1940s all the way to the 2000s. Many of these films are in poor condition, dusty and faded. The negative films are faded, especially those which are over 10 years old.  I've been using my slide scanner and my photo scanner, plus a heaping helping of Photoshop, to get these images into recognizable form.

My mother uses an unusual and ancient painting medium called encaustic, which involves mixing pigments with melted resinous wax and painting while the wax is still liquid. Encaustic was used in ancient Egypt and paintings from two thousand years ago are still bright and visible. Just recently modern artists have been re-discovering the medium and my mother, among a small group of historic Boston artists, is one of the pioneer encaustic painters. 

This image is actually four images, four paintings fitting together into one large piece. My mother wanted to paint a big wall-size piece but couldn't handle the huge panel, so she built it in sections. You can see the connections where the paintings are placed. It took me a while to figure out how this fit together, since there were no indications as to which way was up or which piece went with which. It was like a puzzle. Eventually I found out how the pieces connected and placed them in Adobe Illustrator. This set of four paintings is wrapped up and kept in the back room of my parents' house and has been hidden for more than 20 years. Maybe some day it will see the light again.

I don't know the title of this picture. It was probably painted around 1990. My mother is not forthcoming with information about her work, even when I ask her. Each piece is 4 feet by 3 feet so it makes a large painting of 8 ft. by 6 ft.

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