Studio Work / To Love
Pronounced ài in Mandarin, the Chinese character 爱 is a simplified character, and it means ‘love’ or ‘to love’. In its Standard (K’ai-shu) script form, 爱 is written with ten brush strokes. However, the traditional version of the character is 愛, which incorporates four additional strokes.
愛 is composed of four radicals: 爫, 冖, 心, and 夂. 心 refers to ‘heart’, while 爫 is the radical for ‘claws’ and 夂 is the radical for ‘to go’. Some scholars are of the opinion that this reflects the two sides of love: to love with our hearts, and to love with our actions.
This seemingly academic suggestion resonates deeply with me on a personal level.
When I think of love, I think of Cameron.
I loved him when he grew inside me, I loved him when I found out he had died, I loved him when I gave birth to him, I loved him when they took him away, I’ve loved him for the twelve years we’ve been apart, I love him now, and I will love him until I die.
God willing, I will love him for eternity.
There are countless other people whom I love—my husband and my five other boys included.
The difference is that I get to love them in action.
With Cameron, my love is confined. Trapped.
Jamie Anderson describes it perfectly: ‘Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.’
When I started to paint, I realised that painting my love for Cameron was the consummate answer.
And so I painted To Love.
And then I painted it again and again. And again.
With each stroke of paint, my love for Cameron materialised in the form of colour and texture.
As if by alchemy, I was making the intangible, tangible.
And this is what I continue to do.
Recently, I asked my ten-year-old and my nine-year-old what they thought of the painting.
Their response? ‘We love it! Can you put it in our bedroom?’
‘To Love’ will be released as a series in spring via The Handmade Popup. If you would like to be notified, please subscribe to the newsletter. If you have any questions, please email me at email@example.com.