Monday, February 1, 2010

RIP Rebecca Montgomery

I just got home from work at lunchtime in the beginning of December 2007 when I noticed my sister-in-law Danielle had repeatedly been calling my home number.  I called her back and was told the horrible news.  Sean's 18 year old cousin had taken her own life.  It was beyond devastating for the whole family.

Rebecca was the loving sister to her 4 other siblings-Matt, Melissa, Luke and Mark- and to her parents Leslie and John, as well as scores of other family and friends. I hope to never attend a funeral again of someone so young.  The raw emotion was too much to bear.  What could I do to help?  Nothing, obviously.  Maybe I could paint a portrait of Rebecca for her family?  I didn't know if it was really an appropriate thing to do but I went ahead and did it anyway.

Painting that particular portrait was something that I thought would have been such a traumatic thing to do. In fact it was just the opposite.  I'm not an overly spiritual or religious person but while I painted that portrait, I had a full on dialogue with Rebecca.  Of course I asked her why, to which I did not get any answers.  I most honestly did feel her presence while painting her and it wasn't sad--she encouraged me to finish the portrait.  The painting was not a struggle for me at all--I think Rebecca may have even art directed me.  When I was in university and full of drama over every potential "relationship" that didn't work, I'd cry and cry.  I painted a piece of my doll Lucy (more on her another day) sitting in a sea of tears.  Not until I painted the portrait of Rebecca did I realize the cathartic power of art.  It was a way of honouring  Rebecca's life while getting some of my sad, sad feelings out on canvas.

It was difficult giving the portrait to Les and John just after Christmas that year.  I think it was difficult for them to accept it at the time as well.  Since then, both Les and John have told me that they have hung the portrait up and that it has given them some comfort.  As I said before, I felt powerless to help but I also felt so strongly about painting her.

Rebecca is thought about and missed by her family everyday.  While I didn't know Rebecca that well, she most definitely made an impression on me. She will most definitely not be forgotten.  RIP Rebecca.

RIP Rebecca Montgomery
acrylic on canvas
16" square

1 comment:

  1. The portrait of Rebecca meant so much to Les & John and the kids, but it has also meant so much to all of the extended families. It was a wonderful gift you gave from your heart and will always be treasured. I'm amazed how you captured her so well. She would have loved it! Thank you Justine you gave us a little ray of sunshine in such tragic circumstance. xxx