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Michael Mize Art Blog

The Art of Family

by mize , January 11, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: Family, inspiration

To date this is, without question, the one work of art of which I am most proud. It hangs prominently in the front room for all to see as they enter into our home. The reason I am so fond of this work has as much to do with its source of inspiration, as it does the current composition. It is a portrait of my family. And like us, this painting has continued to grow and change over the years.

So far it has been through three major stages, and couple of significant compositional overhauls. It begun initially as a loose, abstracted figure. The subject of a figure was really just something to get me started. And then in the process of painting, a second figure revealed itself amidst the strokes of yellow and red. As I continued to work, it became apparent to me that this was obviously my wife and I. So the painting took an abrupt turn, and began heading in a new direction.

Features of my wife and I began to take shape and soon I found us wrapped in an embrace. Our heads nearly merged in the top left corner, me with my pony-tail and my wife with her then flowing red hair. I filled the remainder of the canvas with ambiguous, organic forms that twisted and spiraled around the mass of my wife and I.

I was very pleased with the painting and intended on stretching it to hang in the apartment we were currently in. Shortly after though we moved in order for me to take my first teaching position. So the canvas was rolled up and packed away where it remained, forgotten, for the next several years.

Then one day while rooting around in the basement through old ___art stuff___ the canvas was rediscovered. I was thrilled to see the painting again and surprised how it had managed to slip away from my memory. However, upon looking over the canvas I realized it was missing something of great importance. My newborn daughter!

The canvas was stretched and found its way back to my easel where it promptly underwent a second major compositional change. What was fascinating was that many of the ambiguous forms were now very suggestive and became many of the new additions. My wife and I were moved to the right of the canvas, however the ghost of my pony-tail still remains on the left. My daughter was added in my arms in the lower left. You can see her little hands and legs in a number of other places as well. She even makes an inutero appearance in the swirling black spiral just below the center.

Other additions included the water and leaves seen springing up throughout the canvas, which are intended to symbolize growth and life. Many of the plants have two large leaves and one small leaf. My wife and I are seen holding hands and both of our wedding bands are visible. There are countless other examples of intimate symbolism that have made the painting exceedingly personal. The canvas then found its new home in our front room.

And then 18 months later, my son was born! Once again the canvas found itself on my easel. This time for the addition of my son as well as a few other fine tuning adjustments. I was again surprised to find that previously unidentifiable forms were now clearly recognizable to me as my son. I needed to only make them obvious to everyone else. And now my son is found in my wife__™s arms near the top, as well as escaping from his swaddling blanket near the bottom of the painting.

And that pretty well rounds out the story of what my brother-in-law likes to call my ___Opus___. However, there are still a few random, ambiguous forms lurking about the canvas. I like to imagine that they are grandchildren, and if I__™m patient enough, one day they too will become recognizable. And once again, this canvas will find itself on my easel.




  Jose Acosta ( homepage )

01/22/2009 * 09:39:20

I like this painting very much, there is something going on all over the canvas. It is a painting that makes you think and those are the best kind of paintings. I also enjoy paintings that an Artist puts something of themselves into as it is a glimps into the artists mind.

Great Work Jose.

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