If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother

She begat me and I became her. As a teen, I resisted, as an adult, I’m honored and hope to fill the toes of her shoes.

Wise, gentle, compassionate, I never heard her yell or be rude. Always makes people feel welcomed and wanted.  And at almost 90,  I still have her in my life. At the prodding of a friend,  I thought I’d try a portrait.

First a rough sketch in willow on linen.

Pre- toned canvas, light sienna wash.

Trying to work out the main features in a general way.

The real mom.

Thought I had a good ride with this one so far and then. Then. It all went south and I think I forgot how to paint. Can you forget? Can you forget how to apply the paint. Seems that’s where much of my angst lies. It’s either too thick, too thin, too muddied, too overdone, or just too wrong.  So this tribute to be is not to be. It’s been duly scraped and scrapped.

But let me paint a portrait of her for you with some of her/my favorite expressions and quotes that I still find myself parroting today.

” I’m too light for heavy work, and too heavy for light work “

” One mother can care for 10 children but 1o children can’t care for one mother “

” When in doubt, DON’T “

” The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know “

” For a marriage to work, the man should love the woman a drop more than the woman loves the man “.

” A woman needs her own pishka * that no one knows about ( * translation from Yiddish- a private stash of your own money – kept even from your husband )

( Hope my husband isn’t reading the last two but if he is…. Hi Honey!  You know I don’t listen to my mother ).

” After 70 there are only two things a man is looking for in a woman- a nurse or a purse, and I’m not going to be either one ” ( This said after my father died )

And after my  commenting doubtfully on a boyfriend much shorter than I, she added ” laying down, they’re all the same height “.

How can you not love the simple truth and beauty of her take on things!?

She is the source of my inspired love of painting, decorating, and general festooning of anything. She has painted walls, lampshades, shoes, canvases, and toilet seats. The latter with thick applications of acrylic paint in the form of flowers thinking we were all asleep.

Some of ” we ” were not. And sat down. And stood up with the seat still stuck to my sitbones.

But seriously, what am I going to do about getting paint onto canvas without suffering the perpetual ” Scrapenheiser Disorder “? Really. Help.

I’ll ask them, see if anyone here can lend an ear.

Surely someone HERE can lend an ear- just look at them!

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32 Responses to “If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother”

  1. solvay Says:

    Well, it only helps, having flowers on one’s rear.
    : )
    What a great photo, what a great visage and countenance. So twinkly and bright! Her face is like a bouquet – it’s always good having flowers on one’s front! : ) And, you look so much like her, Bonnie – that’s beautiful!!!

    I like your sketch, actually. I think it captures her the best of all the images you shared. But, I’m a softie for sketches.

    (and, the tail wrapped around the leg………..oh…………..)

    And, those quotes from your mom. WOW! What a gift, having a mom like that! I’m glad you still have her!

    Smiles and love,
    Solveg

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Solvay- of course you see the sunny side of up. And yes, twinkly is exactly her demeanor. I’m not going to give up on this also because I just enjoy looking at her twinkly little visage.

      Glad you caught the cats’ tail making a donut around little Cloud puppy. As with Boylie and Girlie, I can watch these two for hours.
      Thanks for stopping in.

  2. solvay Says:

    oh – forgot: keep at that painting. make 100 of them!!!

  3. Nancy Moskovitz Says:

    So much love and wit here……..but I’ll jump to the painting part. Who told you you were supposed to get it right without scraping?? Get thee back to it.

  4. Carol King Says:

    Bonnalaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, What a great post! I laughed, I cried, I plotzed!

    Methinks that your particular issue with this painting is that it’s Shirley! If you had a picture of someone’s mom and you were trying to do a painting of it, I don’t think you would have as much trouble. But keep going. Scrape and repaint. YOU WILL get it!

    Shirley has some great expressions! I see where you get your wit and wisdom. I may have to steal one or two of them for myself.

    And those doggies and kitty! Who’s better than them? But where’s Chili?

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Carolllllaaaaaa- your comment made me laugh too.
      Steal whatever you want- we’d be honored to have you bandy about any expression of your choosing. It’s worked so well for you on a previous one!
      Those animals- love em. Chili Pepper is the loner. In this case, three’s company and fours’ too many paws.

  5. Ted Davis Says:

    A wonderful post!

  6. Melinda Says:

    You’ve been given a great gift of a good and kind mother! I think your painting is coming along quite well. I have all confidence that it will be a success. A really wonderful post!

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Thank you Melinda. It’s fuel for me to think that this stuff is actually enjoyed and appreciated by other artists/ blogger friends.
      There are so many times a day that I reflect on my good fortune to have been born to my mother.
      Oh and I can add one more of her sayings, which I couldn’t remember yesterday but is so apropos of your comment.
      She always asks why people wait until someone they love dies before they say good things about them. Tell them NOW and tell them OFTEN.
      Amen, mom.

  7. Paz Says:

    I think the portrait painting was coming along. And I like the portrait of words, too. Those dogs and cat are cute!

    Paz

  8. David Says:

    I began my morning with your page. Your Mom is one of a kind, and to hear those words coming from you made me laugh out loud. I cannot wait to see the finished result. I have always been a fan of your work, and your Mom.

    Next Christmas, you should make calendars for your friends with all of the cute as hell pictures of the pups and the felines. They are Sooo cute together. Much love.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Oh David- a calendar of Cloud a month. I would love that myself. My mother still has the card you wrote to her on top of her dresser.
      And refers to you as Bubbala!
      You’ve made an impression on her.

  9. JoAnn Sanborn Says:

    Your mom sounds like such a dear. As for the painting, looks like no one is letting you off–give it another pass!

  10. Marian Fortunati Says:

    Gosh, I love your posts….. I think your art extends to the written word… you could write and illustrate your own book about being human and loving life!!

    You’ll get it the way you want it, Bonnie… just listen to your mom talking in your head as you paint… It will come out right … as she is to you.

  11. Samartdog Says:

    I think Carol’s right about it being hard to paint your mother. Remember that she painted flowers on your butt by making an impression on you. So try painting the impression you’ve made on her. Does that make any sense? Anyway, don’t give up.

    Love your Cloud and your Cuba. Together, they are my Cuba. Sweet. Coinkadinkally, your Cuba looks a little like my Garrett. Goes to show, a dog is a dog is a dog.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Thanks Samartdog- I’m back at it today. Hers is a face I know so well.
      Now if I could just pull myself away from taking pictures of the dogs and kitties long enough to spill some paint on the palette, I’d have a better shot at finishing this.

  12. Jala Pfaff Says:

    First of all, your mom is a trip. Hilarious!!! Secondly, she’s gorgeous. Oy, I should look so good at 89! And third, I love your painting beginning of her.

    Your mom’s toilet-seat painting endeavors: a) what’s to complain, it was a cheap temporary tattoo for the tuchas, no?; b) if you really, really feel like you’ve forgotten how to apply paint, try perhaps…a toilet seat painting? You did say you enjoyed using acrylics lately…
    I do think it’s possible to temporarily forget how to paint. It happens to me a lot. Remember though, “temporarily” is a key word to keep in mind. It will pass. Also remember, the better you know someone, the harder it is to paint them. Ask any professional portraitist.

    You have a lot of furry ears on standby.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Jala, you’re not the first to suggest that I’m too close to the subject. So how the heck does anyone paint a self portrait!!!! ( notice, I haven’t )
      Impetus, oh impetus, where for art thou?

      Tattoo for the tuchas! Indeed.

  13. planetross Says:

    I don’t use my Mother’s sayings usually … as they aren’t nasty enough.

    “That cuts the grease” when guzzling Coke and “That’s gross” when watching a kid pick his nose and eat it … are the exceptions.

    The best is attributing rude quotes to her:
    In Australian out in the middle of nowhere with a few others I said ” Well, as my Mother says, ‘We are in the middle of buttfuck nowhere’.

    I thought the line was lost … until a few weeks later when one of the travelling companion said to the person on the next barstool. “As Ross’ Mom said, ‘ We were in the middle of buttfuck nowhere.'”

    I was going to say the following, but I think I deleted it. hee hee!

    I just remember talking on the phone to friends as a teen telling them that my Mom was getting ready for a poker game, knocking back whiskeys, or waiting for the strippers to arrive. … with her cooking in the background saying ” oh don’t say that” or saying loudly ” John, he’s telling lies again!”

    Mother’s are wonderful … to torture. hee hee!

  14. Sharon Crute Says:

    Too bad you shelved this one. The beginning sketch promised all the love and admiration that was “in your face.” We artists are unnecessarily harsh with ourselves. I understand it, but I don’t like it, not one bit! Go back and put your heart into it…please! (now I sound like MY mother)

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Sharon, sometimes we need that neutral overlord standing next to us to stop us from being too critical.
      Where were you when I needed you?!!
      It was a good beginning. I just don’t know how I sent it in the wrong direction.
      I have to step away from this one for a while.

  15. wrjones Says:

    She has a glowing face with an “I enjoy life” smile. Try the painting again. You can do it and I bet she will smile at your effort as well.

  16. Noel Luria Says:

    You took a real chance putting your mothers alleged age on the Internet for all to see. Good thing being a techie aint her thing.

  17. Bill Sharp Says:

    Great aphorisms. I think you have a good start on that portrait. Don’t give up.

  18. Loriann Signori Says:

    Hi Bonnie,
    What a wonderful woman your Mom is! Loved hearing her words of wisdom. Painting your Mom has GOT to be the absolute hardest thing to do. The expectations of painting not only a person but the immense feelings.. hard.
    Love your blog. Sam directed me to it.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Hi Loriann- welcome, friend of Jala and Sam. Nice of Sam to say so.
      Apparently this is a hot topic for lots of us and I wonder if painting your mother is any harder than a self portrait. In our case, we look so much alike it could be part of the ” wall ” for me.

      I’ve gone to have a look at your blog too, after seeing your comments in many of the same places.
      Your use of color is fearless and so varied.
      Glad you left a note and we’ll check on each other.

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