Posted by: jeanne | November 12, 2008

making cancer art 4


this is how a photo of my daughter transferred on to canvas. the canvase is 24×48, so 2 feet by 4, which is basically three-quarter length. so i can get roughly three quarters of my baby. and what a baby. she’s so cute and full of spirit, still a kid at 20 and yet so grown up. i’m so proud of her i just can’t tell you. and for what? accomplishment? ambition? mom-approved attitudes? i love her just because she’s who she is, and as long as she bes herself i can’t help but be proud of her.

i could see after i had drawn the image, that i had made many errors of placement of the marks, like her elbow’s too high, and her waist is too wide and her legs don’t run exactly the way i’ve got them. but i’ll fix that the next time i go down to the studio and don’t write (cathy eats her words).

i had to run upstairs and get a ball of straight pins. i’ve got art supplies spread out all over the house, because i’ve got my fabric studio upstairs, and the painting downstairs.then i folded the straps inside the bra and pinned it to the canvas. i wonder would it make it more authentic (or gross) if i were to use actual surgical stitches to close the inplanted bra. or should i use pink ribbon?


i can see once the bra’s on that i’ve drawn my kid’s features too small. that bra fits me. she’s much smaller, because she’s not 52. it took years to get to the shape i have, and if i’m lucky, i’ll end up little and birdlike. in my 30s i looked like a fireplug. now i’m on tamoxifen i’ve got this wasp waist thing going on with the usual spreading bottom and sagging breast. the bra is made for a shape like mine. it’s got 3 sets of hook and eye on the strap. so i’ll have to enlarge the drawing, especially around the head and neck. both arms need being redrawn as well.


when i measured the proportions i discovered that the waist was fine, and the head in fact needed to be larger. the skirt had to come down some, and the legs were wider. the bra is so big, is the problem. 

i measured the left hand. it was twice the size i’d drawn in. and i just plain gave up on the other hand, after drawing and redrawing and finally drawing in my own damned hand. it never looked riht. so i’m going to use the solution i used in grade school. just don’t draw the hands. hide them behind the back.

this is symbolic, of course. no hands, no power, no ability to point or gesture or stop or clutch or claw.

my issue now is that the body is somewhat large for lifesize now. it’s that damned bra. i hate bras.

more symbolism.

the front side of the painting is the facade. the back side is the working side. i’m thinking of putting pink on the back in the negative space around the body. this would symbolize the surrounding context of cancer – the cancer industry, the politics of cancer, also unappetizing upset stomach preparations, and vapid deadly sweet pure sugar cotton candy.

the back side of the canvas is behind the facade, where every nut and bolt shows and is accessible. facade, facile, facility. the easy side, the socially acceptable side – versus the private side, the hidden side, the inner self and experience.

part of the inner experience is taken up with the efforts needed to pass in the socially acceptable world. am i saying that women get so caught up in being socially acceptable that there’s no personality, just construct? but doesn’t the mirror and empty bra cup require the addition of the observer’s body and mind?

the joy on her face says she’s having fun with this representation of herself. (she didn’t know i was going to use it when she posed for the picture, but it was the one shot i got of her just being herself, joking with her mom about how silly it all was. doing a pinup pose and relaxing into it.

i’m still trying to figure out how to include emblems of the environmental causes or associations. maybe decorating with yoplait pink breast cancer yogurt tops and coca cola caps, or pictures torn from magazines.


  1. I am so no artist, that I dare to speak.

    When you were talking about the surgical stitches as in gross oppossed to pink ribbon. I thought that to people we are gross because of our cancer and they don’t want to see it. So I was thinking, show them the stitches.

    After I read the facade and then the underneath I thought why not pink ribbon on the facade and stitches on the underneath.

    Anyway you make me think. You will know what is right.

    Have the best day you can.

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