Holding on to Family

MacLelland Family Portrait, Oil on Canvas, 2020, Teresa Haag

It was early in the afternoon, just after the holidays. The kids were back in school and the studio was cozy and quiet. The bells tied to the front door rung softly upon Buffy's arrival and we sat and chatted about her family and her husband, Bruce. I wrote down an occasional word or two, but mostly just wanted to listen to her describe her family one by one, ideas and thoughts forming as the stories were shared.

I watched her face light up when she talked about her children, their spouses, her grandchildren...and, of course, Bruce. So much love, so many years, countless stories. I would be creating a painting of her family built on a canvas covered in photos, blueprints, and pages from when they built their home many years ago. It would be a birthday gift for Bruce.

Those that live here in Phoenixville know the MacLelland family well. They've touched all of our lives in one way or another through their organization and their generous support of so many initiatives in town.

Working from many family photos, I pieced together images from the beach, Disney, golf outings, and candid moments, bringing the family together in front of their home. The painting went slowly...wanting to take my time and carefully capture the likeness of each person.

By the time it was complete, I felt like I knew everyone so well.

We scheduled a delivery date...it would be my second painting delivery post coronavirus. All the family would be there, most in person, and one via FaceTime in California.

Rolling down their driveway in my tall white van, I saw all the cars lined up with little hands waving out the rear windows at each other. Bruce was standing nearest me, mask on, gloves on, relaxed, and looking unsure about what was going on. Buffy signaled to grab the painting and I brought it out. Surrounded by family watching from their cars, Bruce opened his gift.

All the love in the world seemed to pour out around me. I wanted so badly to run over and hug everyone. I saw Buffy, her face mostly masked so you could only see her eyes, and at that moment I realized how much things had changed. Her family all around...no one able to get close...but the love was still there.

I waved goodbye to the faces that I had spent so much studying in the studio and headed down their long, tree-lined driveway feeling how drastically the world had changed; grateful for moments like that to remind me of what we all still have.

Much Love, Teresa

P.S. Check out the journey...

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