A COLLECTION BY SEKULOVIC
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.” Brene Brown from ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’
My mission is to portray the modern day mother as a muse. Mums are resilient fighters. They are also a source of inspiration that too often goes unnoticed. We are not in the habit of acknowledging them as such, but they are. Their lives however are usually so packed, especially mothers with small children, that they don't often have the time to feel like muses. Hence it is unique and empowering to give them this moment, a moment to stand still in time as a muse, eternally on canvas. Not pretending or trying to please anyone, just uniquely themselves.
The challenge often comes on how to capture or simply outline some of the more precious and authentic characteristics of each woman I am painting. How will I go about bringing out the romantic or the epic, the fragile or broken, the strong and valiant?
My approach so far has been to focus on less rather than more. I try to use fewer lines and a simple color palette. I search for ways to bring movement into the contours of the figure or into the skin. I believe the figure needs to breath. It needs to reflect something of the human fabric, which is that we are both orderly as well as complex, angular as well as curved. I seek for that imperfect sketch like line, the type that a three year old succeeds at every stroke, because they are not seeking perfection.
How can a few lines on canvas reveal a glimps of the inner life of that person? True, a single painting cannot capture the whole of a person, but it might give us a little piece of them. That is what motivates me to try again and again.
My source of inspiration is tightly intertwined with my personal life, which is hectic on most days. But rather than restriction and frustration becoming a mum has given me focus and drive in my work, a sort of resilience and perseverance that I didn't have when I was younger. The great thing about being a mum is that you don't waste time. If you want to achieve something for yourself, you have to find that narrow time frame to do it, and then you just got to do it.
Perhaps what brings about most inspiration and creativity, in my case, is the work itself. Every morning I am excited about getting to my paints, no matter the weather outside or external problems I may have that day. I feed my paintings my full attention and give each piece my full intention.
“There is always only this one step, and so you give it your fullest attention. This doesn’t mean that you don’t know where you are going, it just means this step is primary, the destination is secondary. And what you encounter at your destination once you get there depends on the quality of this one step.” from ‘A New Earth’ by Eckart Tolle
PHILOSOPHY - Love of Wisdom
It is worth noting that the name ‘muse’ as a noun is a person who is a source of artistic inspiration, whoever as a verb means ‘to think about something carefully and for a long time’ (Cambridge Dictionary).
Delving into subject such as Philosophy and Education has become a big part of my work as a deeper guide into how I transmit or imbue my thoughts into my paintings. Among some of the authors who have triggered my thinking are Alain de Botton, Sir Ken Robinson, Sheryl Sandberg, Brene Brown, Eckhart Tolle, Deepack Chopra. Author and Philosopher Alain de Botton in particular has led me to name each painting (each muse) after a Greek philosophical term. Names such as Dynamis (the power of things), Doxa (opinion), Noesis (intellect) are a few examples.
Perhaps my hope is that my art work, in some way, achieves to nourish the soul and inspire other women and mothers to dig into their dreams and potential. I may not be able to change the views on how motherhood is perceived. But what I can do is give my full attention to each individual muse, each individual creation and allow the paintings to continue a life of their own by speaking for themselves. I like to think that a painting can emit an unconscious memory that the viewer may not quite be able to pin down but that they nevertheless are drawn to without ever being able to explain why.
“Always go with your passions. Never ask yourself if it’s realistic or not.” - Deepack Chopra
I am an artist and mother to two young daughters, presently living and creating in Madrid. I was born in Rome to a German mother and a Serbian father - raised in Switzerland, fluent in five languages, and married to a New Zealander. I have lived and worked in Paris, London and New York. Thanks to this diverse background that has enabled me to see the world from a broader standpoint I have come to the conclusion that - if you don’t have any roots, you can grow yourself a pair of wings.
THE ORIGINAL COLLECTION
This project, a collection of large format paintings, depicts present-day mothers without props or distractions. Here the mother is turned into a vanguard Odalisque, where she is both parent and muse, proud of herself and of her body. My intent is to highlight their uniqueness, to convey authenticity. I paint them as I see them, strong and stunning in motherhood.
Every single woman is different; the way my models pose reflects a part of who they are, expressing their personality. There is no pretence, no trying to act out, they are simply themselves, and that’s great. The way a women thinks she should look or tries to conform to an ideal of beauty, should not hold her back from being who she is and achieving her goals in life. And that is an attitude worth passing on to our daughters and sons.
What does "Mother & Muse" mean to you?
"For me this project is a tribute to mothers, who in many cases disappear behind maternity. I think its really important how you chose to paint these large formats. I say; feel big, feel enormous, we mums, we're not small, we are gigantic!" Virginia Frieyro (Artist, Mother & Muse)
Becoming a mom, juggling work and family was not easy and initially my art took a backseat. My inspiration to pick up the brush again came from my friends - mothers - who manage a crazy life and yet find the time to build businesses, keep learning, and carve out time to socialize. These mothers became my newfound muses. Women from different cultures and with jobs as varied as Editor in Chief, CEO, Artist, Yoga Teacher, Head of Marketing and more.
“I guess when you look at it, this project means that we, as mothers were muses for Nikoleta. She was inspired by us, she encouraged us to be confident, to feel beautiful, to explore and rid ourselves of some of our insecurities. To me though, it’s the opposite. I feel that the experience made Nikoleta my muse. She made me feel creative and reinvigorated as an artist.” Rosalie Cocchiaro, (Flamenco Dancer, Mother & Muse)
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT MY INNER THOUGHTS...
Because nudity can be empowering; it is not a symbol of submission in today’s western world. A strong, wise, leading and authentic person is just so, whether portrayed naked or clothed. Too often nakedness has been used to evoke sexuality as it has been depicted and promoted largely by men for men. Many modern women however regard their own nudity as a part of their everyday life, a source of pride. And if they choose to pose nude for a photo or a painting, it is primarily for themselves that they do so, not necessarily to please any one else.
Why paint a mother without her child?
They are entitled to their individuality. We assume the stereotype: that men are leaders and women care takers. Today’s Western mother is free to also - on top of being a mother, wife, partner and professional - have a life of her own. She has her own friends, her own hobbies or activities that do not involve her partner or her children. Our society needs to redefine the image of the mother. We are still burdened by an old fashioned stereotype of maternity.
How do I work?
I work from photos, as no mother in their right mind would have the time to pose live for hours on end. When I ask a mother to pose nude I never tell her how to pose. I just let them sit as they wish. And this is where something amazing happens. Every single woman sits differently, her back posture is different, her hand position is different, everything in the way she poses reflects a part of who she is, expressing her personality. They are real.