limited edition

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!