Painting:A young girl wearing a black and white striped T-shirt asleep with her head on a cushion.

Paintings, inspired by a child in our family .

In Zoe Cameron Blog by Zoe Cameron

Children frequently inspire my work. Over the years I have made many paintings, recording shared moments and encounters . Some of which, also reflect my own childhood memories .

Now, when I spend time with a young child, it reminds of what I have forgotten…. as a long time adult, which is to see and enjoy the world anew. These small truth seekers have their hearts and eyes wide open. To the child the ordinary can seem extraordinary, colours , nature, people, almost everything. Their energy burns from dawn to dusk, they want to know about everything, are full of hope and trust, and all the while they are terrifyingly defenceless , as they set out on what we hope will be long, happy and healthy lives .

Painting:A young girl wearing a black and white striped T-shirt asleep with her head on a cushion.
Holly sleeping. Oil on board. 2017. 11 x 14 1/2 ins. Archive.

It was more than a decade ago that a close family member had a little girl, much wanted and loved. I began painting about her, before she had even arrived, and have continued to mark the changes that each new year brings, as the infant has blossomed into a lovely young woman.

The first four paintings below are part of a larger series that were made while I was snowed up in a Travel Lodge in Berkshire, as we waited for the new baby to arrive in 2010.

Three women sit around a domestic table talking.
Talking together. Oil on board. 2010. Series – Waiting.
A pregnant woman lifts her top to show her stomach to two other women.
‘Its moving’. Oil on canvas. Series- Waiting 2010.
Painting of an angel with a baby leans over a sleeping woman.
‘She arrives’. Oil on canvas. Series – Waiting 2010.
head and shoulders of a woman who holds her new baby.
She is here. Oil on canvas .2010. Series – Waiting.

I often use as subject or reference the people I know and that are around me. It was while making some large paintings in 2017 , that I needed a reference for putti in the top corner of the painting, below is a detail from a painting of Archangel Raphael. The serious looking little head, bottom left, is the little girl as a baby.

Three heads of Putti with wings make up part of a painting border.
Putti Detail, from a large painting of Archangel Raphael . Oil and Gold Leaf on board. 2017.

The drawn study below on a ceramic jug was made after a Christmas get together, when as a toddler ready for bed, we discussed what Father Christmas might bring her.

Drawing of the head and shoulders of a child on a white ceramic jug.
Drawing- The head and shoulders of a child . White ceramic jug. 2011. Private collection.

As the passing years gather up the people, places and traditions held dear , the writer Laurie Lee’s sincere anecdotes and stories about the people he knew in his village as a boy in his book ‘Cider with Rosie’, make a lot of sense to me, they are a valuable reminder if one were needed, that time is not infinite and change constant. Beautifully described in this sentence , “The last days of my childhood were also the last days of the village. I belonged to that generation which saw, by chance, the end of a thousand years’ life…

Painting:Head and shoulders of young girl in a garden with a variety of pets.

Summer 2018. The Lizard. Holly sings to our dead pets buried in the garden. Thank you for kind children . Oil on board. 8 x 10″. Part of series ‘ One hundred painted Vows’ . Votive offering .
A carved frame with a painting of a girl sitting on a table with a dandelion in a tumbler.
The dandelion clock. Oil on board. 2017. Private collection.
Waiting for lunch.(In progress)Oil on board. 2022.

The summer of 2020, I could see my little muse was starting to blossom into a young woman. Taller now, clear thinking, with favourite authors and subjects at school , her questions are considered, as she reassesses the world, and reflects on what to make of it .

Painting:A young woman is watched by an older one on the path to Donnington castle, Newbury.
At Donnington Castle with Nan.Oil on board. 2020. Archive .

There are many other paintings I have made of Holly, and hopefully there will be plenty more. Perhaps as the decades pass in her life, one or two of them might one day prompt for her, a recollection of a moment, or a memory of her childhood and of a loving family , all locked away for now in these painted time capsules.