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Art Series: Motherhood Hit Me Like a Train

Painting with Toys 

Train on Motherhood Hit Me Like a Train painting by Canadian Artist Rachael Grad
Painting with toys is an art technique I picked up from my children over the years. Inspired by my kids' uninhibited and fearless play, during lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 I tested different toys and objects as painting objects. I joined in my children's experiments in playing and painting with any materials available in our home. The Thomas the Train caboose shown here is resting on top of my first Motherhood Hit Me Like a Train painting. The full painting is shown below.
To make the artwork, I used the small toy train to create watercolor paint marks on the large size 36" x 36" paper. The painting has many layers of built of train track lines. The artwork took many weeks to complete because of drying time needed between each painting session. The painting process was also both physically and mentally exhausting. Below I describe in more detail how I painted this original abstract artwork.

"Motherhood Hit Me Like a Train," 2021, Watercolor on Paper, 36" x 36

Sold Motherhood Hit Me Like a Train abstract watercolour by Canadian artist Rachael Grad

Shown here is the first painting in my Motherhood Hit Me Like a Train Series framed and installed. This painting sold to a lovely New York City collector while on view in the 2021 Mercedes Matter Award Show in SOHO, NYC. The art exhibition ran from October 7th 2021 through December 31st, 2021 at the Margalit Gallery. I was thrilled to have my art shown in New York City and to be able to attend the opening in person. The short trip was my first time outside of Toronto since the COVID -19 pandemic began. This original abstract artwork sold to New York art collectors and now hangs in their home. I'm grateful to Margalit Gallery for showing this painting and to the lovely NYC art collectors for purchasing my art. 

The Inspiration and Background Story of the Abstract Painting

Rolling a toy train across my artwork is a not so subtle metaphor for being a mother and artist. I felt that motherhood hit me like a train and incorporated that feeling into my artwork. My drawing and painting practice completely changed course when I became a mother. Toys have taken over my home and my artwork and they are always in mind and in my way. For this first artwork in this series I tried to reverse the ubiquitous toy train and turn it into a paintbrush.

My children often join in on my painting, drawing, collages, and studio artwork. At first, I did not appreciate my kids' overtaking or co-collaboration in my art. Over the years, I have grown to accept that children thrive on creative art projects. I have intentionally started including my kids and sometimes their friends into certain projects, both for family activities and for school projects.

To express motherhood in body and gesture, I used a small toy train with six wheels to make fluid marks across a large 36” x 36” watercolour paper. I tested various brush strokes and differing marks with the toy train, including quick pushing of the train to letting it move on its own across the page. I decided on a sweeping arm motion as my one mrk. I found the rolling motion to be a more satisfying way of using the train, as compared to dabbing it like a stamp.

Motherhood Hit Me Like a Train by artist Rachael Grad in process

Surprisingly, the mark making was unexpectedly tiring for my arm and back. Ironically, working in this way causes the same physical exhaustion, aches and pains as those I experienced after childbirth, as a mother to a newborn. I was forced to work in short bursts and take many breaks while creating this painting. Resting alone and respite from one’s own kids is also highly recommended when mothering.

Thank you to the New York art collector for purchasing my painting "Motherhood Hit Me Like a Train." I'm grateful for your support of my artwork. 

Shop Available Paintings in the Motherhood Hit Me Like a Train Series

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