The Story Behind My Art: The Mother, The Hermit and Transformation / by Sam Abelow

"Do Was a Deer," part of the "Birth Certificate" series | Gouache and ink, on 8x10 paper

All art pictured in this post is available in limited edition prints. You may also inquire for the original painting by emailing

A Search for A Living Art

My art is a search for something; I’m digging around. It’s like I’m gardening, in an intraterrestrial place, like a cave. You see, I’m digging for a well, then it caves in and I fall over. There, I discover something unexpected, even revelatory.

My art is not merely a search for aesthetic sensibility or beauty. Although I love materials and colors, the search that I’m doing is much more internal; it has mystical qualities.

The paintings are an inner music: it is a quest for the harmony of color and form. But, the forms I speak of are personalities, living spirits within the psyche. They are personalties that want to be born through the creative act. Through the act of painting a part of their essence is captured.

So to me, paintings are alive. It’s similar to Oscar Wilde’s Painting of Dorian Gray, but a lot less grim. The characters and harmonies in my art live on, much beyond me.

The Great Mother

"Great Mother's Milk," part of the "Birth Certificate" series | Gouache and ink, on 8x10 paper

"Portrait of a Pregnant Woman," acrylic on 16x24 canvas, with vintage frame. Inquire to purchase.

A repeating theme in my art has been the mother and child. The more that I explore the mother, I see that she is fundamental and perennial to all life. She contains so much of our experiential existence: love and sadness, fear and death, ecstasy and bliss. She is all sorts nourishments; she is food and water, she is trees and sun, day and night. She is all these things. She is also death and putrefaction, rotting flesh in soil, worms and insects.

The Great Mother contains so much of life. She is, on a symbolic level, the spinning wheel, the ever transforming, ever evolving, ever renewing spiral. On an every day level, in a tangible sense, she is the personal mother. I am fascinated by the transformation of women in pregnancy, the act of birth and the development of the child.

"Descent of the New Born, into Life," Gouache, ink and colored pencil on 8x8 paper.

"Birth of the Redeeming Symbol," Gouache and ink on 8x8 paper.

Cycles of Transformation

This fascination connects on an inner level, for me, in the sense that the mother is a psychological womb. The mystic and the hermit retreats into this womb. There, in that cosmic womb, I have followed dreams and inner personalties, and through this process I was transformed. Through her, I was reborn. The child is the symbol of this new state of being, this renewal of self. 

Myself, as the artist and mystic, goes through this cycle again and again. I go inwards, explore and discover, in order to renew myself, to be born again. Once reborn I am ready share with others.

A Simple Philosophy

"Portrait of Tinamarie Clark Breastfeeding," Gouache and acrylic paint, ink on 8x10 paper | Commissions for portraits are available -- please inquire

On an outer level, the phenomena of the pregnant woman and the child is extraordinary. This relates to my philosophy about life: we should have adoration and amazement towards the essential and seemingly small things of life. Pregnancy, falling in love, an honest and true conversation with a friend, the abundance of a dinner, a sunset, a walk in the forest, a party filled with friends are all examples of the most common, yet incredibly potent experiences. 

These little things in life, amongst such a wild and chaotic world, offer a point of access into the brilliance of the present moment. If we can be truly absorbed and engrossed in those little moments, we will see that they are precious and highly charged with evocative, personal meaning. 

The Lens: A Telescope Pointed Inwards

This particularized lens is the tool the artist uses to remind us why we are here, why we are alive at all. This magnify glass on reality looks at a landscape and recognizes it as sublime. An artist with atelescope that is reversed to go inwards is able to acknowledge the limitlessness of imagination and the inner cosmos.

I’m attempting to point a magnify glass on the world around me and a reverse telescope into my psyche, in order to animate and enrich my experience of life. I share this art, in the hopes that my rejoicing in the mysterious gifts of existence will help others to have a similar reverence and enjoyment.

A Portrait of my psyche: "Lost in Gardens," gouache and acrylic paint, ink, on 9x12 paper

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