Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Final Chapter…A Mother's Day Portrait

The Final Chapter
Judy Takács
There is so much symbolism in this work I don’t even know when to begin. 

I’ll begin at a time that was very close to the end. 

Late in May of 2016, I asked my mom to come to my studio and pose for me from life. Neither one of us said, “one last time.” 

She was at the end of her four-year journey with Ovarian Cancer, had decided to forgo the last cruel bout of debilitating chemo…that wasn’t working anyway… and let the chips fall where they may. 

I told her she could read while she posed for me.

This is something I do not encourage because the sitter’s downward cast face moves from one side to the other, changing the head angle with the regularity of a slow and frustrating metronome.

But I bent the rules for her…just this once.

As she posed, she also dozed, giving me even more frustrating head angles. But, I embraced the experience and came up with this portrait of a disappearing little gray person painted from life. (below)
Little Gray Person
Judy Takács

While I was painting, I also snapped photos because I knew there was a better painting yet to come. I also had no idea how long the photos would sit on my hard drive after she was gone, before I steeled myself to approach them as painting reference…let alone look at them. 

Now it’s been not quite two years, and I felt the time was right to approach this “final portrait” of my mom…especially with the advent of my solo show, SECRETS, coming up in May. 

I’m not a believer in the afterlife per se, but my mom was. To her, the afterlife was a glorious journey where you find out everything you didn’t get to find out during your lifetime. Ever the control master (like mother, like daughter) she wrote her own eulogy reassuring us that she was now on to new discoveries about historical and scientific questions that had plagued the ages. I’m sure she is.

As I watched her read while I painted her, the pages of the book began to look more like angel wings…allowing her to soar via the vast knowledge she was gaining in the afterlife. 

I surrounded her with her own words. If you’ve read my other blogs on my Ephemera paintings, you’ll know that my mom, Dalma Takács, was an English Professor who left mountains of handwritten words; journals, plays, concepts, fictions, histories and class notes. These class notes were color-coded on multi-colored notecards. From this vast store, I tore juicy tidbits of her observations on the many books she read and lectured to her classes about. There are reflections on heaven, hell, good, evil, puritans, monsters in fiction and reality and Beowulf too. 

The ancient poem, Beowulf is particularly pertinent, because the day before she died, she told me all about Beowulf, and his quest to slay Grendel. 

The actual book she was reading when she came to pose was one about Greek Tragic Drama. In the painting, however, I decided to substitute the book she was reading when she died. It was a book by her own father, Lajos Páloczi Horváth; an autobiographical account of his life during the Second World War, Communist Hungary, his time in political prison and the Hungarian Revolution that released him. 

The name of that book was, “Két Világ Határán”…Between Two Worlds…kinda perfect actually.

And, the name of my painting is The Final Chapter. She made her debut this summer at SECRETS, my inaugural exhibition with Marilyn Szalay at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

And now, she's hanging in New York City as part of the:

Allied Artists of America 105th Annual Exhibition
Salmagundi Art Club, NYC
August 30-September 16
Artist reception and awards ceremony:
Sunday, September 16th from 1:00 to 5:00

Another study for The Final Chapter
Judy Takács


  1. Your Mother's day Tribute, The Final Chapter, brought much tears to my eyes. It was truly inspiring and beautiful. Your paintings of her are magnificent. I am in awe. She must have been a most remarkable woman and mother. Thank you so much for presenting her in such a lovely and touching way.

  2. Thank you for this lovely and heartfelt comment! It truly made my night!


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