Mother & Muse
A collection by SEKULOVIC
“Enough romanticism about ‘creativity’: its about work, confidence, endurance, courage and appetite for suffering.” - Alain de Botton
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.
The idea that divine inspiration will suddenly land on your lap one day is a completely mad idea. Perhaps what brings about most inspiration and creative work, at least in my case, is work. Day after day, painting after painting. Only that, I believe will bring me somewhere close to an authentic piece of artwork, eventually.
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).
Lately I have been reading and learning about philosophy as a deeper guide into the realms of what goes on in my mind. And while I paint, instead of music, I will listen to talks or podcasts on Philosophy, Education and Entrepreneurship. Among my favourites are Alain de Botton, Sir Ken Robinson and Sheryl Sandberg. These are a few of the people who have triggered my thinking. 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.
Maybe my hope is that my art work, in some way, inspire other women and mothers to dig into their dreams and potential. I am not sure how my collection of paintings will achieve this, I don’t have the answer yet, but one day I will.
“...no one is able to produce a great work of art without experience, nor achieve a worldly position immediately, nor be a great lover at the first attempt; and in the interval between initial failure and subsequent success, in the gap between who we wish one day to be and who we are at present, must come pain, anxiety, envy and humiliation. We suffer because we cannot spontaneously master the ingredients of fulfillment.” - Alain de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy
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...
Well why not? 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?
Why not? They are entitled to their individuality. We assume the stereotype: that men are leaders and women care takers. Are we to be expected to disappear behind a pile of nappies, laundry, and baby food for another century? 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.