Twirling Syd, pastel, 16×22

Just a simple moment caught in time.  A girl sings a song and twirls an umbrella.  A cell phone camera captures the moment.  That moment, shared among friends becomes a moment of inspiration.  The artist eye sees that moment, and the urge to paint is there.

I can see the painting in my mind’s eye.

“Sure!” Mom says.  “I’d love to see you paint this!”

We talk about what the painting could be, I throw out some ideas, thinking out loud.  Then, back in the studio, I dive deeper into the image, and I realize that so much is said in so little.


Twirling Syd, 16x22, pastel on UArt © Nelia Harper
Twirling Syd, 16×22, pastel on UArt © Nelia Harper


As I worked on this painting, I came across this quote from Andrew Wyeth.  It summed up my feeling of painting precisely.

My struggle is to preserve that abstract flash – like something you caught out of the corner of your eye, but in the picture you can look at it directly.
– Andrew Wyeth

My goal with the piece was to focus on her expression as she sings.  Does she know that she is watched?  Or is she simply not self-consciousness?  As she twirls the umbrella, lost in her imaginary world, we have a small glimpse into the life of this little girl.  Who were we at this age?  Were we inhibited?  Or did we talk to our dolls and ourselves?  Did we read books without a care in the world and dress in what we fancied that day?  Did we hold hands with our friends and skip to our own song?  Do we remember ourselves?

See this piece in person

This piece is part of the 3rd Annual Expressions show being held July 25-August 4 at the Carnegie Center for Creativity in Fort Collins, CO.  Open Wed-Sat 12-6.

What do you think?

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