It is written for the point of view of a writer, a twin separated as an infant and given up for adoption. Her mother had died in childbirth. She believes she was given up for adoption because of a deformed hand and other health issues she was born with that her biological father, an artist and an alcoholic, could not handle with two babies to care for. She has only recently discovered that she is a twin when her father's estate lawyer contacted her after his death. She is now on a quest to meet her sister but she finds out she is a cloistered nun who also is an artist. While doing some reconnaissance at the convent where she has been told her sister lives, she sees on the wall a Madonna and Child that moves her in ways she did not think she could be moved. She finds out that it was painted by her sister. She is now determined to write about her sister and her art so on her return trip to the convent to again try to talk to her sister, the painting is gone. Here are a few things that struck me.; one is finding out her sister has taken this Madonna and Child to paint over it. A new painting. Because of lack of funds for fresh canvas but also because the artist nun has no intention for her work to be known to the outside world.
"From what I can figure, Sister Catherine values the act of painting, not the outcome. The creation process is her method of prayer, a direct appeal to God, who replies in colors and shapes. Once their conversation is over, Catherine considers the finished piece incidental."
"Sister Catherine doesn't show or sell her paintings because she doesn't want to be given credit for them. In order to keep the channel clear for God to work through her, she paints as often as possible, even, and sometimes especially, if that means recycling canvases."
My thoughts on this have been that I like that the works being painted are a conversation with God. That really struck me as to how I should be approaching my own work. That she paints over them, I understand too, but the pieces I paint over are not usually my best.
Which brings me to an exhibit held last year about this time where an abstract artist here in town came up with the idea to exchange paintings with 12 other artists. He received one painting each from the 12 artists and reworked them in his way, and the 12 artists each picked out one of his abstract works and painted on them. There was a lot of hue and cry over this exhibit; ie how can you paint over a Quang Ho or a Ron Hicks painting?? Sacrilege! I thought it a very interesting concept and liked what some of the artists came up with when making something new out of what came before.
Sometimes the process is where you need to be rather than the outcome. It is a good thing to not be attached.