painting mother – a challenge and a great learning experience

Painting Mother


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What to get for my mother’s ninetieth birthday? She has all she needs, hmm, and then I thought I would paint her a painting. What an obvious (but almost overlooked by yours truly) solution. So what to paint…?

It soon became clear that a corny card like painting (flowers and a 90 sign) would be just that – corny, and anyway I can’t do those sort of paintings. So a personal painting (now that is what I do all the time) is good. I want it to warm her heart. How to do that?…

By painting my mother with her two children, of course! But when she and we, were young. Great, I am getting somewhere now. How to portray that? As a proud mum sorta protecting us – yes! go for it Alan. ┬áSo I did, and here is my first attempt…


painting of mother first attempt

first attempt at painting mother


Simply awful! What is the painting about? my mother, me or that bike? And where the heck is my sister??? Learn from it Alan and move on

So another go…

painting of mother second attempt

painting mother second attempt


Better. I like the body language, it has potential. But it’s not right and…

I recalled that my mother had beautiful red hair when she was younger, I want to capture that, so have that in mind next time…


painting of mother third attempt

painting mother – third attempt


Now that is better. The body language is much as before which I like, the red hair dominates now and I like that too. And it has my “signature” colour blending. But those children? hmmm not sure. maybe I will do another ­čÖé

But I didn’t. And here is the actual lady with her children


happy mother and children

happy mother and children

But later I just had to change it…

That rather white head that looked a bit like a coconut was not right. Nor was the blending of the children shapes into her form. So another go five years later…


Learning points

every painting is an experiment so some are failures, so be it.

painting your mother must be one of the most personal things you can paint. and if you are painting it for her as a gift the pressure really is on. when you paint it, paint it for you; you can always get her chocalates if it will not please her.

body language is the key to success.

don’t clutter up the painting with distractions like that bike!

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  1. Stephanie Austin

    Hi Alan, good to see the progression of this painting. Did you complete another one in the end or give the third version to your mother, and did she like and appreciate it? I know my own mother is impossible to please! Best wishes, Stephanie

    • Hi Stephanie,
      I decided number 3 was enough. If I could not get it “right” by then then more tries would not work. I actually like number 3 (I did a bit of tiddling about, not a lot and it worked okay) . I give it to her on Saturday. Watch this space! :). Cheers Alan

  2. loved your new paintings. There’s a feeling of joy in them, especially the one of your mother.

    Hi to both


  3. jeannette linehan

    Always love your colours Alan. Convenient that your mother had such vibrant hair colour! Yes, another lovely Alan Brainer. And now it seems, you and your sister are propetecting her. I hope she approved of the final painitng.

    I painted a protrait of my mother for one of her birthdays and also chose to picture her when she was young (and pretty!) and also featured a half sister I would have had if she hadnt been killed in the blitz, so quite a poignant picture for her.

    Still wanting to have lessons and I have also convinced a friend she will benefit from them too! Meanwhile we will try to get to your next showing, so do let me know when it is.

    Best wishes, Jeannette

  4. Vlasta Croker

    I liked all of them. The first one I liked because the ‘blue tent’ had definite Christianity connotations for me and I thought there was the connection with the ‘ultimate vision of motherhood’ I didn’t see the bike until you mentioned it. I liked the second one, because of the cocked head. And the third one, is very good because she dominated your lives – presumably yours and your sister’s. And the yellow sun that comes in her shirt around her heart. I liked that too. The missing facial features reminded me of the memories we all lose as we go along, like, you don’t remember, you just remember the heart and strength…. Well done.

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