Ellen's "Women in Progress" Story
It began with a painting of a woman I saw in a store in Richmond. Straight out of the 1940s, she looked at me with a knowing, confident expression, a slight smile on her lips. I was captivated by her. Only thing was, she wasn’t for sale. Oh, and the other thing? She was unfinished. Literally. Her face peered out from an unfinished canvas. I don’t know why, but I had to have her.
I looked at that painting for more than a year. One day, the painting had been moved and was hanging on a different wall. My heart pounding, I innocently asked the new woman in the shop, “How much for that painting over there?” She said, “Oh. I think it’s a hundred dollars.” I couldn’t get my wallet out fast enough.
What was it about this unfinished portrait that was so appealing to me? I didn’t know, but I began to see more. Women, mostly from the ‘30s and ‘40s, painted, but not completely. I love them. I’ve found them at estate sales, in antique stores, and online. I even found a series of portraits in a jewelry store window in Seattle, used as part of the display. I’ve found one on a peeling board and one, fully, magnificently framed.
I love that they sort of disappear off into a scribbled canvas, or that their hands are missing, or that a face and neck and chest are beautifully complete, but the dress or chair or arms are simply sketched in.
I think what I’m attracted to is the evolution. The development. The progress of the woman. And that’s the inspiration behind my “Women In Progress” cards…“Aren’t we all works in progress? As we live our lives, we are shaped by our experiences, colored by the people we meet and the things we share. The years go by, and we have a clearer picture of who we are, gazing backward, looking forward. We are lovely though incomplete, which is, perhaps, our beauty.”