I have an interesting and sad story to tell. Recently I was approached by a woman who has a friend with a terminal illness. This lady who is sick–we will call her Helen, just because–is in her late 30’s, and has a pretty depressing diagnosis. I’m not going to spin it all out here with medical jargon and time frames, but every day is extremely precious to her. She has little kids. She is a very physically beautiful woman, as you can tell from her photograph. She uses visualization as part of her self-care and treatment, and she wants to be able to visualize herself as a woman 10 years older than she is now. 10 years would be quite a victory for her. But no matter what she does, she can’t see herself in the future, with the slight changes in her skin, new folds and creases, and, of course with happiness at being alive radiating from her face.
So, it was requested of me that I use my time and talents to create an age-progression painting or drawing of this lady, to be sent on to her so she could see herself 10 years from now. Unfortunately, she doesn’t live close enough to do a photography session with me so that I can capture her with my lighting and composition to aid me in the illustration process. But I was able to get a few headshots emailed to me, and I decided that traditional drawing and art techniques would be too time-consuming. It was impressed upon me from the beginning that time was of the essence.
I decided digital techniques, photo enhancement, and then, digital painting on top of the photo itself would be the least time intensive of my creative choices, so, I set out to age this attractive person.
I’m not going to go into each step of the process here. Suffice it to say, I literally painted age on her face, using my Wacom pen and tablet. Then I altered the background with various brushstrokes, and brush stroked her hair, skin and features so they felt painted more than photographed. I changed her hair, and her garment. I spent time considering the color tonalities of the nearly-finished piece. I wanted her to glow, to look like she was elegant, mature, and living fully.
This morning, I emailed the final result to the woman who approached me. It will be forwarded along to Helen, and I hope it helps her. I hope she looks at her older self with love. I hope she can feel the wind in her hair from that beach, and smell the ocean crashing on the sand.
And, as I clicked “send”, I thought about how I am growing older too, and someday will be 10 years older than I am now. If I am lucky. I think about how many things can happen in 10 years–careers rise and fall, families are built, homes are moved into and sold….I thought of how I complain about how I look now, and the changes that are going on in my own face. I feel small when I look at this woman who may not have the same luxury of aging that I (hopefully) will have. All of us, who are focused on the little creases and folds and laugh lines to the exclusion of loving ourselves and the reality that we are alive—we are small and misguided and really ignoring the purpose of living, which is to experience life, not try to hold on to a moment in time, or a look we once had.
Here is to the next 10 years.
Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities. She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end. There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride! You may learn more about Tracy here. You may follow her on Facebook here.