Mothers Day celebrations: How did they begin? What are some popular depictions of mothers in art? Mothers Day painting ideas: Create them all year round.
Mother’s Day is celebrated predominantly in May. However, there are many countries that celebrate theirs on different months. For instance, in Russia they celebrate Mother’s Day in November, Kenya in June, Costa Rica in August, and throughout the Middle East in March.
Regardless of the varying dates of celebrations, we have so much to thank our mothers for that honoring them every day should be the norm. Thoughts?
Having said that, to celebrate Mothers Day, we compiled a list of some Mothers Day painting ideas that you can create all year round. Not only are we to explore the origins of the Mother’s Day celebrations but we’ll also take a look at popular depictions of mothers through three iconic paintings.
Mothers Day Celebrations: How did they begin?
Before we explore some mothers day painting ideas, let’s first examine how these celebrations began.
Did you know that mothers have been honored for so long that festivals celebrating them date back to the ancient and even prehistoric period? For example, the Greeks celebrated the goddess Rheia, mother of most of the major gods — Zeus, Haides, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia.
Likewise, the Romans held a festival for Cybele, the Great Mother of the Gods and the ancient Egyptians honored their mother goddess Isis. Finally, the ancient Indians celebrated their “Great Goddess” or the Divine Female, Mahadevi or Durga.
Mothering Sunday in England
In medieval England and Ireland, particularly to those working as servants, or as apprentices who had left home for employment, there was a tradition to return home once a year to visit their ‘mother church.’ The ‘mother church’ is the church where one received the sacrament of baptism.
Since a return to their mother churches usually signals a return home, historians believed that this particular day became an occasion to visit mothers and the rest of the family. Later, England eventually called the tradition ‘Mothering Sunday’ which was observed every year on the fourth Sunday of Lent.
Modern Mother’s Day in America
At the beginning of the 20th century in America, a teacher named Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day to commemorate her mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis. Anna’s mother was not only a known social activist. She was also a community leader for several women’s groups during the American Civil War.
Two years after her mother’s death, Anna organized a memorial service on the 2nd Sunday of May 1907 at a church in West Virginia. The following year, the first official Mother’s Day commemoration happened with another service on the second Sunday of May in 1908. Anna had white carnations given to mothers in attendance and promoted the wearing of the same flower as a tribute to one’s mother.
In 1910 after relentless efforts to gather support for Mother’s Day, and establishing the Mother’s International Association, the governor of West Virginia made Mother’s Day an official state holiday. Finally, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day an official national holiday.
Mothers Day Paintings: Popular Depictions of Mothers in Art
Mother and Child (1931) by Tamara de Lempicka
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 – Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1871) by James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Mother and Child (1905) by Mary Cassatt
Mother’s Day Painting Ideas You Can Create All Year Round
There is a handful of mothers day painting ideas out there that you can do in May — greeting cards, a banner, I daresay even repainting your mom’s fence would count. However, have you thought of painting something fun and beautiful with or for your mother even when it’s not mother’s day?
No? Well then, luckily, we’ve compiled some inspiration for you. So gather your paints and brushes and let’s get painting. Maybe it’s time to start that painting project you’ve been wanting to try for years.
#1 Collaborative Art
A deeply personal project, collaborative art can be a good way to reconnect with your mother, daughter, aunt, or grandmother. It can be rendered on a big paper, a canvas, on a journal, or on a wall that you can both work on overtime. Take turns painting anything you feel like painting, using any medium you feel like using — oil, acrylic, watercolor, or gouache. Among the mothers day painting ideas we have here, this is definitely my favorite. Check out this quirky art journal by artist coach Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.
Care to collaborate on an extraordinary mural inspired by one of Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings? The team at Smart Class definitely did an awesome job putting together this huge group painting. Each student received a square fraction of the whole picture to paint on using big impressionist brushstrokes. Now, imagine framing that piece!
#2 A Bouquet of Loose Abstract Flowers
In the case of Anna Jarvis, she started distributing white carnations on official mother’s day celebrations during her time to honor mothers. Today, people give colorful flowers to their mothers on Mother’s Day to cherish them. So, why not paint her one or two bouquets instead? Or better yet, paint with her! Check out one of the daily paintings of Boston-based artist Elle Byers. Note that oil and acrylic paints would work so well with this loose textured style. Speaking of painting habits, are you thinking of starting one? Then read more about starting a daily painting habit that you can easily sustain.
Also, here’s another bouquet of loose abstract flowers, this time by artist Angela Moulton. Paintings like this one can be achieved in less than an hour for more experienced artists — by using quick gestural brushstrokes and generous amounts of remarkable paints.
#3 Portrait Swap!
Now here’s a fun mothers day painting idea for the more advanced artists reading this article. Swap portraits! You will paint each other’s portraits using your own visual style. Take a look at artist Catherine Nessworthy’s portrait swap with fellow artist, Serena Scobey. Need some technical help starting a portrait? See our guide on drawing a basic portrait.
Whichever of these colorful and quirky mothers day painting ideas you decide to try out with your mother, daughter, aunt, or grandmother, always remember that the best activity is still that one in which everyone is having fun.
Featured artwork: You are My Sunshine, I am Your Moon painting by Ardak Kassenova
Our featured painting is a Mary Cassatt-inspired oil on canvas painting by our co-founder and creative director, Ardak Kassenova. You are My Sunshine, I am Your Moon was painted using our Infinity Series oil paints and Renoir Collection brushes.
Send our creative director some love on her Instagram account @ardak_zenart!
Did this article spark some inner desire to paint? Do you have some mothers day painting ideas you want to share with our community? If yes, we’d love it if you write them all below. Let’s start a conversation!
Finally, begin painting today. Join us at our Painting Inspiration Daily Facebook group where we do painting challenges and activities with both aspiring and professional artists from across the world.
Sending you all love and light. Happy Painting!
- MEET THE AUTHOR -
Fabrianne is the Ambassador of Art Buzz at ZenART, resident eccentric pocket-sized art curator, editor, and art world liaison. She builds and develops relationships with the arts community and makes sure that ZenART’s inspirational articles get to you “hot off the press.” She co-founded an online contemporary art gallery, worked with over 100 artists on exhibitions and performances, wears only black clothes and when she’s not creating buzz or curating and saturating in art, still daydreams of becoming a quirky Wes Anderson film character.
References and further reading:
Britannica, Mother’s Day, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Mothers-Day
HuffPost, Mother’s Day: Where did it all Begin? https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mothers-day_b_1432370#
Artsy, 9 Artists Whose Mothers Became Their Muses, https://www.artsy.net/article/the-art-genome-project-9-famous-mothers-in-art
BBC Religions, Mothering Sunday, https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/holydays/motheringsunday_1.shtml
From medieval brawls to greeting cards and flowers, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47692060
Anna Jarvis: The woman who regretted creating Mother’s Day, https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-52589173