In-between – Grey Days & Motherhood

McKenna Woolleyart, motherhood

“In-between” – Motherhood Series of 7 – Painting Two
Acrylic and Pastel on Rives BFK paper on wood panel
20×20 inches

The Background:  
The idea for this panel didn’t come until I had already completed several other panels in this series. In fact I think it was the last one that I started and the second to last to be completed. As I contemplated aspects of motherhood and also the continuity of the series as a whole, the 7 would not have been complete without a silver or grey piece. As a result my only initial motive was to cover that criteria, the meaning soon followed.

The Symbolism:
In this series, all are done on a square panel. Each piece depicts many symbols that are significant across many cultures and religions. In each square I’ve superimposed a circle. For each painting the circle or Enso will mean varying things depending on color, placement and application.

– Purple: enlightenment, royalty, mourning, temperance
– Silver/Grey symbols for calm; security, boring, reliability, maturity, doldrums, monotony, ‘silver-lining’
– White: reverence, birth, purity, peace, marriage
– The circle is sacred and divine, often a symbol for the woman, earth, eternity, or the womb. A union between heaven and earth.
– The square is often symbolic of Christ or of the man, a symbol for stability, unity, balance, the four elements, four cardinal directions, four phases of humanity. In Islam the square is a symbol for the heart.
– Seven is a symbol of perfection, the days of Creation, the eternities.

Looking at the details:
The picture plane is divided distinctly by a purple block of color taking up about 1/3rd of the picture plane. The purple gradates from a deep wine color to a pastel lilac. Pearl and granulated dark grey are layered over top of the purple giving it texture, depth and sheen. The circle in this piece is fractionated, imperfect and surrounded by splotchy greys and purples. The circle itself is a pale transparent silver. As a whole the piece is light, airy and luminous with small tinges of grey and darker values pushed out the the rim of the image.

The Interpretation and my Experience: 
This piece wasn’t obvious to me right away. In fact it’s taken me some time to mull over the many facets and details that I incorporated to find the deeper meaning. For me I see it as a piece that covers many of the in-between feelings of motherhood. The grey days where you have to look a little harder for the optimism, the silver lining. There can be so many ups and downs even in one single day of being a parent. You go from feeling elated to tired and drained to amazed and proud and back again.

For me this piece can mean so many of those aspects; my passing feelings of inadequacy as a mother, having down-days where I feel half-there, pre-occupied or just tired from a broken night’s sleep. At times divided by the needs of my child with the needs around the house or my own personal needs or to just go to the bathroom by myself without tears emitting. Tasks often remain unfulfilled, the house in ruins and pajamas get kept on all day. Yet, amidst all this there is the light, the hope and the purity that is that child, the innocence and the clarity that they are what is truly important. All else can be pushed aside.

That is what is ignited when I look and reflect upon this work.

How do you respond?