Artist Gaela Erwin forthrightly states that much of her work is about loss and mortality—poignant themes in the recent series of portraits of her mother. For nearly 20 years, Erwin had almost exclusively painted self-portraits, exploring similar issues as well as a series of self-portraits as saints. But, “I kind of got sick of myself,” she says with a laugh. Around that same time, Erwin’s aging mother was developing dementia, making it more urgent that she spend time with her.
“My latest work has been a series of self-portraits in pastel on paper ranging from paintings based on historical portrait paintings of the 18th century to a contemporary series of individual self-portrait heads with blue eye-shadow to self-portraits that include portraits of my mother,” Erwin says. “Thematically, though, the pastels and the oils have a commonality in consistently exploring the painful gap in our psyche that is the unbidden place where we hoard that sense of loss, suppress thoughts of mortality and deny reflections of our sexuality.”
For more paintings that explore loss and mortality in both the personal and familial realm, see the August 2015 issue of Pastel Journal, available at www.northlightshop.com in print and digital download, or on newsstands July 14.
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