Dry Bones and The Breath

with the celebration of Easter this past weekend, i have ended another busy period of work. last year, i had created Thirst for Church of the Cross' Easter Vigil service. you can find my post on Thirst here.

this year, in addition to Thirst, i created two new pieces for the Vigil - Dry Bones and The Breath. Dry Bones is a piece i cut out of thick paper. light was shone on it and its shadow was projected onto my painting, The Breath, which was covered in a white cloth. Dry Bones was presented during the Ezekiel 37 reading. here is a photo i took during the service. the shadow piece is difficult to see, but i hope you get the idea:

after the Ezekiel 37 reading, the congregation sang the song, Dry Bones. during the song, the dancers went up to the painting and removed the covering over the painting to reveal The Breath. then we were led into the Zephaniah 3:12-20 reading. here is a photo of the painting:

The Breath, 2017, 48x72 inches, acrylic and paperclay on canvas

The Breath, 2017, 48x72 inches, acrylic and paperclay on canvas

details of The Breath

i will say that as an abstract painter, i worried a little about painting something so concrete as bones! i have to thank Chris Allison for loaning me his model of a human skull and for directing me to the Warren Anatomical Museum at Harvard Medical School. both sources were indispensable to me in the process.

i have refrained from interjecting my thoughts on Ezekiel 37 and talking about the artwork, in the hopes that you will find your own beauty in this very bizarre and wonderful passage from the Bible. to those of you who have already shared your thoughts to me about The Breath, i thank you. it means so much to me to know that i have moved you in some small way.

Winter 2017 Residency at the BCA

on January 9, 2017, i began a month long residency at the BCA (Boston Center for the Arts) with my friend and choreographer, Fernadina Chan, and Continuum Dance Project. it was super exciting to get into the space and start working. i am creating installations in the space the dancers will perform in. we will also be projecting some of my paintings onto the walls and the dancers. Fernadina and Adriane Brayton are taking inspiration from my paintings and writings and creating a choreography for the dancers. we are really excited about this opportunity to work together and to have an opportunity to experiment and create something new. it's an incredible experience for me as the artist seeing Fernadina and the dancers bring the emotions of the artwork to life and interpret them with their bodies.

most days, my schedule and the dancers' schedules don't overlap, but the other day, i got a glimpse of them working and it was really exciting!!

i am truly grateful for this opportunity to experiment and to take risks. this is what the arts should be about, trying something different and seeing where collaborations will lead.

the residency culminates in performances that will be open to the public. to purchase tickets to performances and find more info about our residency on the BCA website, please go here. Continuum Dance Project is also offering a workshop on 31 January that is free and open to the public. you can find out more about that here.

here's a time-lapse movie of me painting one of the installations. there are 5 separate dance vignettes so there are 5 spaces.

hope you can join us for one of the performances!

Filling my world with flowers

this was originally going to be a rather happy and light post, but after what happened in Orlando yesterday, my heart feels heavy and everything is tinged with the sadness i feel for those affected by the shooting. this morning, i went to my kindergartener's spring sing and they ended the concert with "What a Wonderful World" - my heart is bursting with the joy and beauty in the voices of those little children on the one hand, and the pain and violence of Florida. it is hard to believe that this world we live in has so much hate and yet also has the capacity to make so much beauty.

so while my thoughts are tinged with so much sadness, i look around me and see so many beautiful flowers. and it is these beauties that i have been busy filling the world of my mind with. here are some photos i've been posting on Instagram. while i cannot have my own garden here, i am growing a garden in my head with these paintings. 

Last two releases for Limited Edition series 13

it is with a bit of sadness i present to you the last two pieces of "13". i am always slightly melancholy when i wrap up a project, but all good things must come to an end! but i do have plans for future projects, so it's not all sad.

i think you may have noticed that many of the pieces in "13" have come in pairs and i see these last two as a pair, more because they are conveying similar feelings, not necessarily because of a visible similarity. however, i have chosen to make the background of both of these more smooth and one color rather than having many textures and layers as in the previous pieces. 

I call No. 12 and 13 "Hope Deferred". when i made these, i was thinking of all kinds of moments when we defer hope, but i was thinking particularly of those women who have had to defer hope in relation to having children. we are in a time when we women realize that we can't do it all and we must choose one path over another, sacrifice something for something else. i know that sounds really vague, but we are all in very different circumstances and have different choices to make.

13, No. 12 (Hope Deferred) - unlike the first piece i did (13, No. 1 (Too Hard To Hold)) where there was a hand to catch the pearls being dropped, there is no one here to catch the pearls. the pearls are rolling away fast. and to me, the hand that's letting go of the pearls here is a bit more reluctant. because the choice to let go of something in order to make room for having children is a hard one. as women, we must sacrifice a career, our time, our sleep, and the ability to call our bodies and time our own. fathers have to sacrifice too, but unless they are the primary care givers, this sacrifice falls largely on women. and we do it willingly, do we not? i certainly did, but it still doesn't quite prepare you for how difficult this is in reality.

when my husband and i decided we would have children, i decided to put aside my goals to pursue writing. fortunately for me, i managed to eek out an hour here and an hour there of writing after our first daughter turned 1. it took me over 7 years to write a very short novel. i still have no idea what will happen to this novel that i poured so much of my effort into and i am still figuring out this journey of being an artist, but it feels so late in life for me to be struggling over these things! there are moments when i think, i should have figured this out in my 20s!

hope deferred.

i was having a conversation about this with a friend who was saying that we are privileged to even have this kind of thought, to have the luxury of making a choice, as there are many people in this world who don't have this luxury, who must live to survive day to day. but it is a reality many of us face and we must make a choice.


13, No. 13 (Hope Deferred) - when i made this piece, i was thinking about all the women i know who at some point in their lives were unable to conceive. this is a different kind of hope deferred, one that is not our choice to make. this, i believe, is particularly difficult. i am also thinking of those women who have lost babies, through miscarriages or other complications that took their babies' lives.

i recently watched "March Of the Penguins" with my daughters. there is a gut-wrenching scene where a mother penguin whose newborn froze during a storm tries to steal the baby of another penguin. her grief and desperation drove her to attempt something so unthinkable. because the void left by a dead baby is surely too painful to bear.

i'd like to believe that this kind of hope that has been deferred blooms somewhere for the women who must carry this burden around with them daily. i'd like to believe this even if we can't see it. 



i feel that my words here have been rather halting today. it is not easy to think about these kinds of pain. but this month of work has been about embracing both the joys and the difficult parts of life and looking at them as honestly as i can. thank you for accompanying me here on this journey. i hope the experience of accompanying me has enriched your days in some small way. i know i have learned so much this month, having the discipline of producing a certain amount of work every week.

i look forward to other projects in the future! i will continue to share them here, so if you'd like to follow along, please subscribe by clicking on the icon below, bottom left corner. once you click on the icon, you can choose to either read in a feed of your choice or receive emails. i generally write here at most once a week, so you won't get inundated with emails from me. ;)

have a wonderful week, friends!!

Week 4 for Limited Edition 13

this past weekend, i was volunteering and attending one of my daughters' ballet recitals. i love ballet because i grew up dancing and have always loved the experience of being on stage. as a child, i loved the anticipation of being backstage and the camaraderie shared with the other performers. and i loved the magical feeling of dancing on stage. i will always remember the freedom and pure joy that i felt in the movements. but as i got older, i became more and more aware of my shortcomings and focused more on what was wrong with my body and what i couldn't do with my body, rather than dancing for the sheer pleasure of dancing.

i have been thinking long about our bodies as mothers. how we see our bodies now after having given birth. how others see our bodies. and the ideal we strive towards. we women are hard on ourselves, and we are hard on our bodies.

so for this week, i wanted to focus instead on recapturing that feeling i had as a child, when i danced because i loved to and because it gave me great pleasure. when i didn't think about how my legs were all wrong for a ballerina or if i was good enough.

13, No. 10 (We Are Dancing) - this was inspired by Matisse's painting, Dance. when i think of dancing with abandon and freedom, i think of Matisse's painting of five red figures dancing in a circle. so here is my interpretation of the dancers, imagining what we might look like if we threw aside all our inhibitions and woes about our bodies. if we felt the music's call and began to move with it. as mothers, we have to hold ourselves together so much, but what if we let our hair down for once? i hope we can accept our bodies as readily as i believe these figures here are doing.

13, No. 11 (In the Garden) - what if people's stares didn't feel harsh? what if we were so accepting of our own bodies that we didn't mind or cared what people thought? i think of the Garden of Eden, of when Adam and Eve were not aware of their nakedness and were not ashamed. it would be lovely to recapture some of that in our lives. let us take care of our bodies by eating well and exercising to make it strong, but let us also accept all the ways our bodies have changed to give birth to new lives. i see the figures here in gentle repose, content and being fed.

when i was a student at art school, i remember distinctly preferring models who looked different. models who had bodies that were perfectly proportioned were actually less interesting to me. it was the models who stood out because of something different about their bodies that stayed with me and sparked my imagination. there was a story behind their bodies. and there is definitely a story behind the bodies of mothers. there is a story behind the stretch marks. there is a story behind the stomach that will never pull back to it's former flat state. there is a story behind the shrunken breasts. there is a story behind the hair that has suddenly changed texture or color. let us be kind to these bodies that have been through something so incredible.

these are now available on Etsy.

this is technically the last full week of May, but i will be releasing two more pieces next tuesday, the last day of May. hope you will join me then!

Week 3 for Limited Edition 13

hope you had a wonderful weekend! we had a gorgeous week full of blue skies and warm sunshine this past week and the colors have definitely translated into the work i made for this week. which is funny because the themes i was tackling weren't as happy as the colors. but i think in many ways, that's life. and that's definitely motherhood. we are constantly carrying both the joy and the pain, the good and the bad.

here are Limited Edition, Nos. 7, 8, and 9:

13, No. 7 (Patience) - ah, patience! such a difficult virtue to foster in an impatient heart like mine! the thought of waiting for years, decades, is something i never want to embrace. but that is something i have had to learn as a mother. i remember the first years after the birth of my first daughter - i thought the sleepless nights would never end, i thought i would never get anything accomplished during the day besides nursing and changing diapers. and even now, with the kids getting older, i sometimes wonder if my girls will ever learn to play without bickering. but i am older now, and i hope slightly wiser and more patient. these are seasons. like this dead looking tree. it is just a season. one day, it will leaf and bloom. the blue skies promise that. but in the mean time, i wait.

13, No. 8 (What the Tide Brought In) - last summer, we explored many different beaches in New England. my girls love to beach comb, so each time we arrived at a beach, they would immediately set out to see what the beach had to offer. so often, the girls were terribly disappointed, esp the youngest, that there weren't any sand dollars or "special" shells. so you can imagine the excitement and happiness on the day when there were numerous sand dollars and scallop shells to fill the bucket with! it would be nice if we could find treasures every time we visited the beach, but then they would no longer be gifts. i wish every day sparkled like a diamond, but most days are mundane, most days, we are working hard to get by. but we mustn't stop looking because we want to be ready for that day when the diamonds do get washed ashore! we will take whatever the tide brings in because when it brings in treasures, they are that much more precious.

13, No. 9 (Letting Go) - i've been thinking more about this as my kids get older. finding that ability to letting go of your children to grow up to be their own people, yet at the same time, being here for them always. i've also been thinking about some of my hopes and dreams for life, how i need to let them go. disappointments and hurts that i sometimes hold onto tightly, i've got to let them go. i try to remind myself that there is good in letting go.

i'm looking forward to another week of tackling the theme of motherhood! please feel free to comment and share your own stories of motherhood. you know it does us all good to share one another's stories. these are now available on Etsy.

have a wonderful week!

A post for Friday the 13th

i couldn't NOT write a post about "13" on a Friday the 13th, now, could i? ;)

we've had some BEAUTIFUL weather here this past week. lots of sunshine and almost summer-like temperatures. i have really enjoyed my bike rides to the studio. my girls and i have been spending time outside after school, climbing trees, sitting in the sun, playing in the park. and i think all of this has translated into the pieces i've been working on this past week. so here's a shot of what i've been looking at this week and glimpses of the pieces i will release next week for Week 3 of Limited Edition series 13:

have a fabulous weekend, friends! join me here next monday!

Week 2 for Limited Edition 13

i know yesterday was Mother's Day, but here, we are going to just keep celebrating motherhood as we enter Week 2 of my Limited Edition month. :) as i thought about motherhood yesterday, i wanted to give myself, more than anything, permission to be honest about being a mother. i think there is nothing in the world that quite compares to being a mother, and that includes both the joys and the challenges. and the pain for those of us who have either lost babies, miscarried, or haven't been able to conceive, that pain is unlike any other.

i have tried in all these pieces to convey some of that tension of being a mother - the great joys and the great depths. so here are Nos. 4, 5, and 6:

13, No. 4 (Sometimes You Need To Leave the Garden): no matter who you are, what you do, i think we can all agree that we must set aside time and space for ourselves. i love my children and love caring for them, but i know i am a better mum for having some mental space to call my own. when the children were young, it was simply that. mental space. while nursing the baby, i would think of stories to write, paintings to paint. a world in my head. as the children got older, i was able to make that mental space more. i could set aside some time and some space to cultivate that. it feeds me and makes me stronger to better feed my family.

13, No. 4 

13, No. 4 

13, No. 5 (Holder Of Memories): i don't think i need to add much more to this than the title. except that the little white things falling into the glass jar are diamonds.

13, No. 5

13, No. 5

13, No. 6 (Remember Me): this one is for the many mothers who have gone before me and have shaped me into the mother i am today. for my own mother and for my grandmothers. for the mothers i knew in Kenya who cared for me sometimes when my own mother couldn't. for the mothers i've known since and for my own daughters who may one day be mothers themselves. it's that connection we suddenly feel at the moment of our first child's birth, a physical connection we have never felt before, a connection that feels very earthy and grounding.

13, No. 6

13, No. 6

lastly, i want to thank all of you for your tremendous support through this process. it's been wonderful to hear your responses to my work. i look forward to the continued dialogue!!

here's the link to my Etsy shop where these pieces are listed. have a great week!!

Week 1 for Limited Edition 13

hello, friends! welcome to those of you who have joined me here recently! i'm really excited to be sharing this journey here with you. i have been busy working on the pieces that are released for today. i hope you will head over to my Etsy shop to take a closer look at them. here are some work-in-progress shots:

edited with VSCO

edited with VSCO


let me share a little bit of the story behind the three pieces pictured above.

i wanted to start out with some darkness. part of being a mother is seeing yourself go to some dark places, but also, when you care for little ones, you often find yourself awake at night, caring for them when you should be sleeping. there are images of pearls and flowers in these pieces. to me, the pearls and flowers are about thoughts, feelings, and memories. when i became a mother, so many thoughts, feelings and memories became sharper than before. memories of my own childhood took on different layers of meaning, now that i could see them from the perspective of a mother. the incredible love i suddenly felt for another tiny person was so strong and sharp. life came into sudden focus as i no longer lived for me and had to live for another.

13, No. 1 (Too Hard To Hold) - in this piece, a hand holding a chain of pearls is dropping the pearls and another hand catches one as it falls. there are moments when the demands of motherhood feels like it is too much and in those moments, i want to drop all the pieces that i'm holding together for everyone. sometimes, the pearls and the flowers hurt me. and other times, i am afraid i would hurt the child i'd been entrusted to love. i long to hand over my troubles and worries that have become polished and shiny like these pearls from too much handling and caring. sometimes, they become too heavy to hold onto.

13, No. 2 (From A Distance) - but sometimes, when you are up in the middle of the night, holding a sick child and you feel like you cannot change the soiled sheets or clothes another time, or you feel like your baby has been marathon nursing and there couldn't possibly be any more milk left in your breasts, sometimes, you look down at your child and you forget how exhausted you are and you marvel at the beauty of this person sleeping in your arms.

13, No. 3 (Your Face Is Cracked In Half) - there is a saying in Korean that my mum said to me often after i gave birth to a child: "Your face is cracked in half." having children has somehow altered my face. of course, my face has aged over the years, but i'm not talking about the crow's feet, wrinkles and age spots. i think something shifts under our skin after giving birth. i woke up one day, looked in the mirror and knew that my face no longer looked the way it did before i gave birth.

hope you will visit my Etsy shop and take a closer look at the first 3 pieces of the Limited Edition "13". thanks!!

Limited Edition series titled "13"

May is just around the corner and this May marks a special moment in my life. my oldest daughter turns 13 years. which means i have been a mother for 13 years. and the number 13 has a significant place in my life. my birthday is August 13. i turned 13 years old on Friday the 13th - it was a terrible birthday, but that's another story! :) it seems apt that i should do something special for this upcoming month of May. so i thought, why not make 13 paintings for the month of May? I will release 3 paintings each week over the course of May and then release the 13th painting on the last day of May. this Limited Edition will be available through my Etsy store. please follow me here on the blog, on Instagram (@madebyslk) or on FaceBook as i celebrate through the month of May. if you would like first dibs, please subscribe to my blog (click on button on lower left corner) as i will post the releases on the blog first.

the 13 paintings began their life as a single large painting and then have been cut down to smaller 13 pieces. the large washes of color provide the background for the smaller details. there's a lot of texture here because of the many layers of paint, with colors coming through the dark washes of black.

i'm a little nervous about this - i've never done a series to be produced in a set amount of time, but i'm hoping it will be a good discipline and a fun project. plus, Mother's Day is coming up and i can't think of a better way to celebrate it than by putting down on paper my feelings of being a mother. thank you for joining me in this endeavor!


Some new work

hello!  it's been a while, but i have been busy with experimenting and thinking up new works.  i have been playing around with acrylic paint and painting over old paintings that have been unfinished for many years.  i've been thinking of new paper-mache sculptures to make.  

here are a couple of new paintings which will be up on my Saatchi page soon:

i will leave you with a beautiful quote by Arshile Gorky i read the other day:  "Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes.  Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite.  It is the emancipation of the mind."  

A little bit about "Meanderings"...

i thought you'd enjoy a little background info about this new series of abstract watercolor paintings i've been working on.  you can see them individually on my Saatchi gallery.  they started off as experiments in colour and as i finished off several of them, i noticed that the colours had some specific geographical roots.  

"Meanderings, No. 1" and "Meanderings, No. 2" have definite roots in the winters of Wisconsin.  my years in Madison taught me to survive the stark cold colourlessness of the Wisconsin winter, yet i found so much beauty in those winters and i hope the small bits of colour coming through reflect that.

"Meanderings, No.3" and "Meanderings, No. 4" were inspired by my recent visits to the beaches of Massachusetts.  rather than focusing on the water, i was drawn to the rocks that were being washed by the waves.

"Meanderings, No. 5", "Meanderings, No. 6" and "Meanderings, No. 7" so clearly have their roots in my years in Kenya.  the browns, reds and yellows will always evoke my childhood there, but i think the vibrancy of the colours are from looking back with the lenses of memory.  Kenya will always be a place of beautiful bright colours.

these paintings are also about the process.  most of the time, i start out a painting or art piece with a definite finished image in mind.  with this series, i had some idea, but left the colours to spread as they wanted to with the spreading of the water.  it was really freeing to not be concerned about how the colours would spread and to find surprising interesting details in the way the colours bled into one another.

the days have been cold and bleak here, so i have been filling my mind with all the colours you see here.  hope they bring a spot of colour into your day as well. :)

Falling in love

i am in that state where i am falling in love with a new place but the joy of falling in love is tinged with the sense of time.  perhaps i have always been just too impatient and i wish to be known just as much as to know.  i long to feel some sense of belonging as i get to know this beautiful place that is Massachusetts, but i know that only time will get me there.  i am really grateful that our family is finding its way: the girls love their schools and are slowly making friends, my husband loves his job.  and me?  i'm finding there's so much to discover here and perhaps that is what overwhelms me at times.  

Broadmoor Nature Sanctuary in Natick

Broadmoor Nature Sanctuary in Natick

Last week, i had the opportunity to visit the ICA Boston.  it was a bleak and rainy day, but i was still struck by the location of the museum.  it is right on the harbour and the architects took full advantage of that.  there were some lovely views from inside the museum.

i loved the collection of art at the ICA.  they have a special exhibit going on right now called "Fiber Sculpture: 1960-present."  definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.  here are some shots of my favourite pieces from the show:

"Inchworm" by  Francoise Grossen

"Inchworm" by Francoise Grossen

"SoundWay" by  Ernesto Neto

"SoundWay" by Ernesto Neto

"Spatial Element" by Elsi Giauque

"Spatial Element" by Elsi Giauque

"Crocheted Environment" by  Faith Wilding

"Crocheted Environment" by Faith Wilding

i think Faith Wilding's installation was my very favourite.  it was lovely to walk into the little room and be surrounded by a white web.

i have moments when i feel sad about something and i have no idea what i am sad about.  and since i can't make sense of myself with words, i have been painting without any clear idea of what i am painting.  right now, i am playing with colours and playing with acrylic paints on canvas, mediums i haven't used in a very long time.


spring always makes me a little restless, but more so this year.  with a big move ahead of us, i've been busy clearing out *stuff* in the hopes of making our house look less cluttered.  i've been spending an inordinate amount of time online looking for a home in Boston.  my mind feels rather frenetic, and i think the lack of focus and direction in my recent sketches and paintings clearly reflect the state my mind is in.

i rather wish i was like this tulip, tightly closed and still, waiting for the sun to come out.

but life must go on. i wish i could wave a magic wand over everything in the house and have all the stuff magically shrink and pack itself into a tiny suitcase, but all the stuff is evidence of life lived and in many ways, it is good to sort and be reminded of that.

i leave you with a photo of the beautiful poppies my husband bought for me from the past weekend's farmer's market.  yes, the poppies are indeed beautiful, but for some reason, i was drawn to the stems. :)

Bittersweet moments

i have often wondered why the "bitter" comes before the "sweet" in bittersweet.  i like to think that the sweetness heals the bitterness and helps alleviate some of the pain or sadness, so it has to follow the bitterness.  i have a couple of bittersweet news to share.

the first one is definitely more sweet than bitter: 5% sad and 95% sweet.


i packed up one of my paintings and sent it off across the ocean to another continent.  sad because i am always a little sad to say goodbye to something i have created, but like i said, only 5% sad.  95% of me is very excited at the thought that someone connected with my work and wanted it. :)

the second bittersweet moment isn't so sweet, 50% sad, 50% sweet.  a couple of weeks ago, my husband and i took a trip to Boston.  this is a shot from the plane as we took off from Madison at twilight.


and this is Boston.  here's the bittersweet news: our family is moving there this summer.  we are sad to be leaving Madison - Madison has been so good to us!  and yes, the winters are brutal and long, but our lives here were full and we gained so much.  our two youngest girls were born in our house here and our little family has grown so much during our seven years in Madison.

but it is time for us to move on.  and Boston, i hear, is a great place to move on to.  we are excited about the future and all the new things we will learn and experience.  if you know people or places in Boston that you think i should know about, do let me know!  i would really appreciate that.  i am all for getting as much info about a place as i can before i move there.

When it all began...

well, sort of.  while sorting through old photos, i found these.  that's me, a few months after my youngest was born, sketching out ideas for paintings.  i remember feeling so tired, yet feeling this hunger to paint the images in my head.  so i would snatch at moments here and there, most often when Cordelia was asleep in the moby wrap.


but i think she definitely looked cuter with the headphones than i did. :)


and look at her now!  so big that she can do most of the puzzle without my help.  this was taken yesterday. :)  i wish i can say that my art and my writing have grown as much as she has, and perhaps in the distant future when i look back on my work, i can say that it has, but the growth of a child is much more evident than the growth of one's work.  perhaps the mental growth of a child would be a better way to compare the development of one's work - most of the time, you can't see how your child is growing mentally and then one day, they surprise you by saying something so mature.


Portraits of my children

having all three girls home over the winter break was a welcome change from the busyness of the school year.  seeing the three of them play and interact inspired me to paint them.  i also was struck by how quickly the time is slipping by us and they are growing up so fast.  i really wanted to capture the spirit of where they each are at this point in their lives.  i tried to capture their hopes and dreams.  so i had them draw something on their portraits as well, so that they will remember how they used to draw at that age.


Skye thinks she looks much older here than she actually is and i agree.  but she is my eldest and i always think she is older than she is.  plus, she will soon be bigger than me. :)  she is my swimmer and glides like a mermaid in the water.


Claire is my little dreamer.  and crazy about horses.  and longs for hair as long as Rapunzel.  


Cordelia was the trickiest - she is still just 3 and couldn't sit still.  after several failed attempts, i used a photo to paint her likeness.  thus, she is the only one with a great smile.  fairies and bunnies fill her world and i wish i could keep her world from changing, but i know that won't happen.


what struck me most while painting these was how much my girls cared about how i saw them.  i was thinking they would be concerned about how much the paintings would look like them, would look like how they saw themselves, and yes, there was some of that, but they were more interested in how i chose to portray them.  it showed me that they wanted to know how i perceived them, what about them i was interested in.  in the end, they were happy.  and i was struck by how much power lay in my hands to shape them.