I recently had the incredible pleasure of working with the very talented Katie Berggren on a commissioned piece of art. Katie has an unbelievable talent for capturing the warmth and beauty of motherhood in her paintings. I first found her work on facebook and after looking at every single painting on her website, I decided I must have one of my own. I related to so many of her finished works that are available for purchase but I really wanted one of my own. I received a monetary gift for my birthday from my in-laws and decided that is what I wanted to spend my money on. I was so excited to contact her and see what she might create for us.
When we lost our home in the tsunami we lost many of our photographs. We are photo crazy and take pictures on a daily basis. We had been so careful to document everything in the first year of our daughter’s life and most of those photos are gone forever now. So I really wanted to have a painting commissioned of us as a family.
I decided to ask Katie to paint Violet nursing because that is what Violet loves to do most. It is where we both feel our calmest and where we have both found comfort over these last 3 years.
I also wanted my husband to be in the painting because he has been a tremendous support throughout our breastfeeding journey. When I was waiting for my milk to come in at the hospital, he brought me food to help. When I was engorged he went home and found videos for me to watch online of how to pump. When I couldn’t get her to latch on the left side, he reassured me it would be alright. When we decided she would be exclusively breastfeed and never given bottles, he supported me. He didn’t make me feel guilty or express jealousy that I was the only one who would be feeding her. He was there to lend a shoulder for crying on when the biting phase happened. When I had mastitis, twice, and the pain was so intense, he offered physical and emotional support. When I was told to give her pumped milk because of the antibiotics I was taking he never laughed or scoffed at my tears. I couldn’t bear the thought of putting a bottle in her mouth, it felt so unnatural and I cried as I tried to get her to take the bottle. He supported me. He agreed with me. He never judged me. I don’t think I could have come this far without his unfaltering support. So of course he had to be in the painting.
I sent Katie pictures of our family so she could try to capture our spirits. She does not paint an exact likeness in her commissioned works but tries to capture the emotions and love between the people.
Katie was extremely easy to work with and she kept in constant communication throughout the painting process. She sent me pictures of the progress to ensure that it was to my liking before moving on to the next step.
When the first sketch was sent to me for approval, I already knew I was going to love the painting. It was gorgeous and captured exactly what I had hoped it would. Next she sent the result of the initial painting. I showed it to my husband and daughter and they too loved it. Violet was actually entranced by it. She walked up close to the screen and studied the image so carefully. Then she said, “That’s me having milkies mama!” She loved the detail of her hand holding my breast. Then she told us she wanted us to sit like we were in the painting. She wanted to recreate that pose. So we agreed. She told us where to sit and then she positioned herself in my lap and placed her hand up on my breast. She looked out of the corner of her eye to check for accuracy and moved her hand slightly to the right before she was satisfied. Then she looked up at me and smiled as she was nursing. It was a beautiful moment and my husband and I beamed at each other when she was finished.
When the final painting was done, Katie shipped it to me here in Japan. It felt like Christmas morning when the package arrived. I couldn’t wait to see it and hold it in my hands. Now I get to look at it every day.
I love that we have this moment in our lives captured in such a beautiful way. It will forever be a treasure in our home and I know Violet will treasure it too. The painting will be hers when I am gone from this world. I hope it will warm her heart to remember the love exchanged between us during this season of our lives.
Thank you, Katie! Thank you for capturing such love and beauty. Thank you for painting motherhood for all mothers. You have a beautiful gift and I am so thankful that you share it with the world.
Please take a moment and peruse Katie’s website. I fell in love with her work and continue to be amazed by her talent. If you have the funds, I definitely recommend commissioning a work by her. It will be something you will treasure for the rest of your life. These moments of early parenthood are fleeting. Her art is a beautiful way to capture them. If not her prints are very affordable and there are so many to choose from.
Without further ado, I share with you
Clear and Bright
By Katie M. Berggren