Since Baby Grayson burst onto the scene 7 months ago, he's been the star of his mother's captivating movie-themed drawings. In one charcoal artwork, Grayson is on a boat half-destroyed by a Great White shark, and in another, he's flying across the moon on his bike.
The backdrops are created by his talented 33-year-old London mom, Fee Ainsworth, who got the project idea while she was glued to the toilet seat, staring at the tiny blue cross (while her husband Glen cried in the hall).
Her go-with-the-flow personality immediately took a 180 and she felt herself turn into a super-nester with the conviction to be the best mother ever.
"Through all this emotion, another thing kept playing on my mind, an underlying sense of 'this is it' and 'my life is never going to be the same nor solely mine, ever!'" Fee told Mom.me. She had a newfound, nagging sense of urgency to do something in the next nine months, but what? Write that screenplay? Backpack around Europe?
Fee wasn't expecting many callbacks as a commercial actress during her pregnancy, after her smiling headshot was placed firmly in the "maternity" subcategory. And she already knew she would be one of those moms who posted a million photos of her baby on social media, but she decided to go about it in the most creative way possible and to put her degree in art direction to good use.
It typically takes Fee two to three weeks to complete a drawing, though it can vary depending on how detailed the piece is and the quality of her reference photo. She first scales her page, then lays down a onesie (from newborn to 12 months) for scale and starts the sketch in pencil. Once she's happy, out comes the charcoal.
Most of her charcoal artworks are around 4x4 feet, the biggest currently being the "E.T." scene at almost 5x5 feet. The size of her drawings are limited by the width of the largest paper roll and the fact that she draws on the dining room table of her 1-bedroom apartment. But despite the restrictions, Fee has created incredible works that seem larger than life—and heaps of memories with her family.
While Dad is behind the camera, Fee is responsible for the positioning and facial reactions in a 10-minute shoot. "Grayson is now of that age where he is like 'Oh this again.' He knows when the good music comes on ("Old MacDonald") and Dad gets in on the action (Dad singing is a rarity) that it’s show time," Fee said.
Her current favorite is the scene from "Jurassic Park" where the raptors are in the kitchen. "It scared me witless as a kid and if I think of the movie it’s the scene that instantly pops to mind," Fee said. "It was an enjoyable draw, really painless, and the shooting of it just happened so right. Grayson's hand is perfectly placed on the corner edge of the kitchen unit and his little face is just so spot on. We literally had the shot within seconds."
That was a huge difference compared the the "E.T." shoot, when it took days to find the perfect wheel-size object and she grew frustrated at drawing the bike. She would finish a section and start another, only to look down to see her belly had rubbed off what she just finished. But with a little help from her husband (and some whiskey), they got it done. And the results were amazing.
What started as a "bump bonding" project to expose her soon-to-be child with peaceful drawings and good music grew into an ever bigger gift for Grayson.
"Grayson not only has some pictures to look at later on but know that they where done solely for him, that he was present in every single one," Fee said.
The amazement of being a woman and the fact that I could bear, carry and now nurse a baby is, for one, extraordinary to me.
What she thought would be at most a calendar for Grayson's grandparents turned out to be a business. After seeing Fee's work, parents are now putting in orders for 2017 to shoot their babies in favorite movie scenes. She is now arranging photo shoots, purchasing wardrobe and creating the pieces.
"’I love the drawing, shoots, the babies—it’s perfect!" Fee said. "There is something hugely rewarding for me to hand the parents a framed poster-size artwork of their child in the scene and to pass on the silliness and fun."
But Grayson, too, has given Fee a pretty unexpected gift. "The amazement of being a woman and the fact that I could bear, carry and now nurse a baby is, for one, extraordinary to me," Fee said. "But also [extraordinary are] the everyday lessons with him—on responsibility, boundless love, patience, protectiveness, what real fear is, strength, marriage, living in the moment, and how self-sacrificing, sleep-deprived, giving and devoted one can be."
Her dress code, haircut and personal space might all have gone out the window, but Fee said she wouldn't have it any other way.