Persephone's Fruit: A Suite of Five Miniature Paintings

The five miniature paintings on prepared paper before being cut apart for framing.

The following is a window into how I conceived this series of paintings, and the steps involved in painting them.

Two pages from my studio journal:

In the five paintings, two buds (#1), two flowers (#2), and two fruits (#3, #4, #5) represent mother and daughter/Demeter and Persephone. In each painting the color black, either in the background (#1 and #5) or in one dark leaf (in #2, #3, and #4) represents Hades and the Underworld and symbolizes that death and loss are ever present realities in life. In the series, pomegranates mature from emerging buds, meant to suggest birth and new motherhood, to delicate flowers, suggesting the innocence of childhood and the early delights of motherhood. In my paintings, as child and mother grow and mature together, the pomegranates develop from immature fruit, to the fullness of mature fruit, finally bursting open to reveal the jewel-like seeds within. In the fourth and fifth paintings, one of each pair of pomegranates nearly fills the two picture planes, suggesting that as Persephone matures Demeter’s presence in her life is diminished, much as a maturing daughter might push her mother away as she emerges from the family home into adulthood in the wider world.


Drawing/underpainting: raw umber and white acrylics

Palette for the first layer: yellow ochre, red ochre, Mars black

First oil layer

Palette for the second layer: yellow ochre, madder brown, ultramarine blue

Second oil layer

Palette for the third layer: Indian yellow, quinacridone rose, ultramarine blue

Third oil layer--the finished painting