This painting is of my mother-in-law Judy Ruland.
She has been living with us in Brooklyn for the last 8 years, having come up from a small town in Florida.
She's 81 and she's maybe the most social person I know.
In the last few years, she has woven herself into the tapestry of Brooklyn life. She belongs to two crochet groups, the Park Slope Grandmother's club, and is a key volunteer at the Pacific Street library. Prior to the pandemic, she was out and about, exercising at the Y, taking long walks, and meeting and getting to know all of our neighbors.
The pandemic restrictions have been particularly hard for her.
Just like all of us, Judy misses all those little connections that we have with our community, the smile from the shop owner, the conversation while waiting in line at Trader Joe's, the story from the person working out next to her at the Y. When Judy went on her daily excursion, she'd come back full of rich stories from our neighbors. People were always telling her things about their lives that they might not tell their closest friends.
But then she broke her hip.
It wasn't rock-climbing, just a slip in her bedroom, a one-second thing, and then an operation and months of rehab.
A person like Judy deserves a monumental portrait.
What makes Judy so remarkable is her resilience. She recently had a setback on her road to recovery, but she's still in good spirits and is going to continue to work towards getting back on her feet again.
I paint what moves me, and working on this portrait has been exhilarating. When Judy began to emerge from the swirls of paint, it felt like I was bringing her into the studio with me. The painting is big (17" x 22") and there's something powerful about celebrating Judy, larger than life, letting the world know that she will overcome and leap into the wider world again.
Everyone needs a Grandma Judy in their lives.
I think that some older women, when they reach 80 or so, find a new period of enlightenment in their lives. I remember my Grandmother, who worried about every little thing, becoming calm and hopeful at that age, like the Buddha. My kids have been lucky to have Judy in their lives, and I hope that this painting can bring you some of that joy and illumination.