Before my mother-in-law, Jackie, passed, she and my husband (then boyfriend) discussed her wishes following her death. She knew that she wanted to be cremated, but what to do with her cremations remained a bit of a mystery. She didn’t like the idea of them being scattered somewhere. She wanted to be close to her loved ones, held near and honored. But the option of an urn left something to be desired as well. We could keep the urn for the remainder of our lifetimes but what then? We couldn’t see an urn of ashes being passed down generation to generation. In the end, it was decided that majority of her ashes would be buried in the family burial plot, alongside my husband’s father, but we still wanted to have a piece of her with us. And then we had an idea. My husband asked her: “How would you feel about Moriah incorporating your ashes into a painting?” Jackie loved the idea.
Now that she is gone, a portion of her ashes rests in the cemetery where we can go visit her on special days of the year and lay flowers and words of love by her graveside. The remainder of her ashes has been incorporated into a painting which hangs on a wall in our home. Our sons, who never had a chance to meet her, play daily under her painted smiling face and I tell them, “Look, it’s Granny Jackie!” We get to feel her as a presence in even the mundane moments of our daily lives.
The painting “Our Dear Jackie (12/06/1937-06/06/2012)” was the first memorial painting I ever did and in the two years since then I’ve been honored to create several others as commissioned artworks, both of human loved ones and of beloved pets. I enjoy working collaboratively with my clients to decide what would be the most meaningful way to represent and honor the individual who has passed—whether that is a more literal portrait or a more symbolic one.
I understand that the idea of cremation paintings may seem strange or even morbid to some people. But to me there is something very personal and poignant about having a living artistic tribute to someone—that holds a physical piece of their earthly remains—as a beloved artwork in your home. I feel enormously honored any time I am commissioned to create a piece of memorial artwork and treat these pieces with deep reverence and respect. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or inquiries about this work.