Sharecroppers Prayer

Medium: Oil on archival canvas wrap
Size: 24″ x 30″

I was inspired to paint the strong face of an elderly Black woman reflecting the many years of toil on harsh land and general hard living but still maintain the dignity of her spirit.I actually saw an elderly woman of this character at the Yellow Daisy Festival in Stone Mountain and remembered her face as well as snapping a picture of her, as she picked out some yard art, to use later as a character. While I was developing her face, I remembered the words my mother used to say quite often as a quote from her mother, “If the Lord is willing and the crops don’t fail”. She would say it if I asked a question like, “is the bread going to rise OK? It was at this moment that the saying she used finally made sense to me. It was truly a Sharecroppers Prayer. By the way, the lady in the painting is Miz Ruby, I don’t know why but it fits her. I used realism to convey the spirit of this lady and placed her out of doors. Her face and neck were built up from many layers to reach the right skin tone I wanted to convey. I still use thin coatings of paint and work up the layers between drying time. This process takes time and I work different areas at a time on the canvas often working foreground to background.

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Description

During the Reconstruction after the Civil War, many Blacks were making a living by sharecropping. It was the only time that women, especially Black women, were allowed to have property to work. It was, however, a no win situation where many Blacks wound up owing more that the crops could yield and it became another form of slavery.