Monday, March 11, 2013

My masterpiece

Back in the days before I knew I was going to have a child, I referred to the things I created -- my poems, songs and paintings -- as my "babies." It used to be very hard for me to part with my artwork. It was kind of silly. As an artist, you hope to sell some of your pieces -- that's the whole point to painting in the first place. Over the years I only sold a few paintings and each time it was difficult to let them go. I really did consider them my "babies." I had created them and lived with them for so long that they felt like members of my family. When I sold one of my favourites -- "Wind" -- I actually cried.

Singing on stage, my art in the background
There was a local bar that used to have an open mike for songwriters and they also exhibited work by local artists, a different artist every month. I was thrilled when they let me show my work there. Being a featured performer during the same month was a dream come true. It was kind of surreal being able to sing my songs and show my artwork in public at the same time. It felt like I was sharing the moment with my "girls" on the wall. I received a lot of compliments on my work but I never expected to actually sell a painting there. It was a bar, after all, not somewhere people would be looking to buy artwork.

at Manhattans -- "Wind" painting in centre.

I got a call from a man whose wife had fallen in love with one of my portraits, "Wind." He told me that his wife had given up a baby for adoption when she was younger. It was an "open adoption" and she was still in contact with the adoptive family. They sent her pictures of her daughter through the years. Her daughter was now a teenager and apparently looked exactly like the girl in my painting. I was so touched by the story that I couldn't say no. I couldn't imagine ever giving up a child for adoption. I had a hard enough time parting with a painting! I cried when I said goodbye to her. At the same time it was very rewarding to know that she would be hanging in someone's home and that she would be loved. It was also exciting to actually sell my artwork. I felt like a real artist now.

I painted another version of "Wind" because I missed her. The new version was quite different but I was still happy with it. Any time I sold a piece I tried to make another copy for myself but they were never quite the same.

I exhibited my artwork in a couple of other galleries and shows. It was a win-win situation. If I didn't sell any pieces, I was happy that I got to bring them back home where they belonged. If I did sell something then I felt gratified that someone liked my work enough to own it. I did some custom portraits for people as well. For a while I was painting almost every day. I seemed to go through phases where I craved writing, phases where music was everything and other phases where I lived to paint. As long as I was being creative, I was happy.

Art on the Street show
Art in the Window show

After a trip to the Dominican Republic, I wanted to create a tropical ocean view in my bedroom so I painted several canvases with palm trees and ocean vistas. My bedroom had been decorated in subdued earth tones but I added tropical splashes of colour -- a new quilt and pillows in bright shades of turquoise and fuschia. If I couldn't live on an island, I would bring the island to me. I even created a beach in my backyard, with sand and a tropical garden -- everything but the ocean. The ocean theme began to take over my entire house. There were shells, seahorses, mermaids, palm trees everywhere.

Painting was a way to escape, I would lose myself in it. I filled my entire house with my artwork. I remember when I first moved into my house it didn't feel like home until I put my paintings up. It was like having members of my family all around me. Many people have told me that I put a little of myself into each painting.

Then for a long while I didn't paint at all. A boyfriend had given me three large canvases as a gift hoping to inspire me to pick up the brush again but they sat there blank for months.

When I was decorating the nursery for the baby I wanted to do an ocean theme and was inspired to finally paint the three large square canvases with mermaids and babies. It felt good to paint again. I had missed it. Michelle was fascinated by the painting that hung over the change table and stared at it everytime she lay there.

Last year in February, after Michelle's father left me, I was in financial trouble and looking for ways to make money. (He had left owing me money, prince that he was, and had run up my bills before he left. Also some unexpected expenses came up so it was just a brutal month all around!) I sold many items on Kijiji trying to make ends meet and one of the customers who came to the door admired my artwork in the hallway. She wound up buying a few of my paintings. I sold them for a fraction of what I normally would have because I needed the money desperately to buy a new washer (my washing machine had just died on top of everything else.) Though they were a few of my favourites it didn't have the same sting as selling "Wind" did. My priorities were different now. There was a real baby on the way and she meant everything to me. I'd do whatever I had to for her. I do still plan to do new versions of them one of these days. I didn't get around to it while I was pregnant and it's close to impossible to paint these days. Maybe when Michelle is older she'll be interested in art and we can paint side by side.

When I was talking to a friend about not painting anymore she said that now my baby is my masterpiece, my greatest creation of all. She's right.

Recently I was inspired to write a song for Michelle called "You're the best." It begins --
"Of all the things I've made and done, my life's greatest feats --
You're my favourite one, you're my masterpiece.
Of all the things I've seen -- beautiful and new,
nothing can compare, my sweet love, to you."

Here's a video of it on Youtube. "You're the best" -- music and lyrics by Ann Marie Pincivero:

Before I ever knew that I'd be a Mom someday I remember hearing about mothers "giving up their dreams" when they had children -- leaving careers, artistic pursuits, etc to devote themselves to their children. Now that I'm a mother myself I understand that it's not as though you "give up" your dreams, it's just that your dreams change and priorities shift once you have a child. Suddenly your baby is everything. Anything that seemed important before pales in significance. That's not to say that I will never paint again. I will. I still write songs. I still need to express myself creatively. It's just that many of the things I used to do have to wait a while now. Michelle takes up 99% of my time.

Of all my creations, she is the most unique, the most precious. I am so grateful for her. She is my magnum opus, my masterpiece.


  1. Ann Marie,

    What a beautiful song...and blog. She truly is your masterpiece. And we've always known how talented you arel!! Love May