My latest painting is a deeply personal one.

Those of you who know me, or even those who have just skim read my ‘about me’ page will realise why. I took a decision early on in this painting not to take progress photos as I usually do, as I would prefer this piece to be judged on its own finished merits, and not the techniques with which it was produced.


Motherhood – 20″ x 24″ Acrylic on canvas

It is heavy with symbolism, and I’m sure that any psychoanalysts out there would have a field day with it! I don’t want to influence your interpretation of it, so all I’m going to say is that I deliberately chose a limited palette to enable the composition and subject matter to take the viewers’ attention. I won’t explain each aspect of the painting here, but I am more than happy to answer any questions about it in the comments – please do let me know what you think of it, and if there’s anything that you’d like to know about the painting.


12 Comments Add yours

  1. hierath says:

    It’s beautiful, Gem *hugs*


  2. Gem,

    Ah, the symbolism! This is beautiful in scope, in color, in composition, in form, in so many ways. I love it. How long did it take you to paint? And what was your original idea-flash? How did it all come together in your mind? You really are a poet with images.

    I only have some of the symbolism worked out, and even then, there many be multiple interpretations, personal interpretations, or ones I just don’t know about! How fun!

    You’ve gotten great at checkered floor. So clean. So crisp. I really like the effect. I can’t think of the symbolism pertaining to it — possibly the divided role between woman and mother, yet at the same time the roles are the same?

    The baby is the same color as the puddle coming from the mother — emerging from similar sources? All of those things are also the same color as the moon — another common symbol of women / cycles / and fertility. There are two moons, one lesser and one greater: possibly for the child who is present in your life, and the one who is not (if I’m drawing correctly from what I know about you).

    Ursa Major is a large, bright constellation featured — it could be due to showing a true direction of North, as it “I have found my place in motherhood,” but there is also a Big Dipper / Little Dipper connection, which could also relate to the large moon and lesser moon, if they in fact symbolize the present and not present child.

    The red shirt, could simply be blood, as its shape is loose and dripping.
    The skin and body of the woman are also loose, and “dripping,” possibly symbolizing a lose of form, a metamorphosis, a change of state. The child is solid, one form, one clothing color, a sturdy piece.

    The blocks on the left, spelling “life,” and being in primary colors — from which all other colors are made — is sweet and brilliant.

    Needless to say, I loved this. Let me know if I was anywhere near close to what you had in mind. I’m a poet by trade more than an artist, so what I see may be there…or I may just be jumping in my mind…

    Thanks for this beautiful imagery, and lovely painting, in all ways, lovely. I am so glad I found you and your work. It’s always a pleasure.

    Congrats on the painting, have a victory treat to celebrate!


    1. artistgemma says:

      Hey Penney, thanks so much for taking the time to look and think about this one. You’ve got such a good critical eye!
      The chequer board floor is often used in surrealist images, and here I have used it with the star scape to symbolize an alien/surreal landscape, as parenthood can be an isolating, surreal place sometimes. Your interpretation is also wonderful and can certainly be applied to the painting too.
      Red is a potent colour, the colour of danger, blood and love. She is almost pouring herself, her essence into the child – echoing the way women physically nourish their children, but also emotionally nourish them. There is a danger of a loss of identity – hence the blurred facial features too. The pose of her arms speaks of sacrifice.
      Your interpretation of the moons is spot on – they are also satellites that depend on each other.
      The building blocks of life are there to remind us that we all depend on this process and sacrifice for our existence, yet they also spell the word ‘lie’ as an acknowledgment of the lies that women and the media perpetuate about motherhood.
      Finally, I am so thrilled that you noticed the constellations. The Ursa Major is the constellation associated with my first son, so he is always with me, and my second son is the baby in front of me that I’m looking at.
      Thanks so much for your insights and wonderful comments! 🙂


  3. Helen says:

    Love this Gemma!
    Beautiful, simple concepts but such depth.
    Hug xx


      1. Lucifal says:

        I’ve actually managed one recently for a wedding present: http://lucifal.com/blog.php

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Lucifal says:

        How come that last comment ended up up there?


      2. artistgemma says:

        Not sure how the comments got mixed up, but love your latest painting Terry – beautifully Italian! 🙂


  4. Lucifal says:

    Love the brilliance of the colours in “Motherhood”. Lots of things can be read into it too. All up to the observer, of course …


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.