Visualizing crowning, birth, and peace in the paintings of Rose Orion

Peaceful Birth, oil on canvas
Copyright 2021, Rose Orion, All Rights reserved

Based in the United Kingdom, artist Rose Orion paints rich images of birth, pregnancy, and openings. Her exhibitions include several devoted to the theme of “Portals,” a topic that celebrates the female body and power of the womb. Orion describes portals as sacred doorways and openings from a mother’s body, a place from which all of us arrive, naked, still connected to the maternal form.

Orion painted Peaceful Birth during her own pregnancy when she was coming to terms with her personal fears and apprehensions as she approached labor and the birth of her child. In the painting, viewers observe a woman peacefully birthing her baby while her partner cradles her body and catches the baby, who emerges calmly from the womb. The woman’s squatting position is helpful, allowing gravity to help the birth along. Similarly, the couple both reach up to the branches of a tree above, which support them and provide balance as they share in the event of birth. The warm red tones of the painting, as well as the calm face of both the couple and the larger human-like tree that supports them, are helpful to look at, reminding the viewer that birth can be a peaceful and loving event.

Orion also talks specifically about how she used visualization during her pregnancy, which in turn helped prepare her for the birthing process and paint her work. Like her beautiful painting, Orion’s words are helpful to others who are preparing for birth and are interested in the way that visualization can be a powerful tool as the event of birth approaches:

I painted this before I knew that birth could be painless, I was pregnant and full of fear of how painful giving birth would be. All the stories I was told growing up, all the film scenes of women giving birth, all the women who have lost their lives whilst giving birth. Everyday of my pregnancy I visualised a peaceful, calm and beautiful birth, I didn’t think it would be possible but I visualised it anyway. I painted this scene inspired by the mother of Buddha who was helped by the branches of a tree to birth her baby. 

During her pregnancy, Orion centered her visualizations on birth as a calm and peaceful process that her body would go through. Importantly, the artist was coming to terms with her own fears about birth, and we see that her painting of the birth was a material manifestation of her idea of a peaceful birth, which in turn helped her to give birth peacefully. We see in the artist’s mental, emotional, and artistic processes a connection between internal mental imagery, visualization, artistic representation, and finally, physiological birth.

Orion’s birth story is also a strong reminder of how a pregnant or birthing woman can rely on her own body as she goes through the process of birth, regardless of whether she finds herself in an unsupportive environment or around medical staff who do not support her own intuitions about her body. Orion found herself in just such a situation, with a midwife who did not believe in Orion’s own intuitions about her body. And yet the artist trusted her body and relied on her own intuition, her partner’s support, and her connection to her baby as she birthed him into the world.

I told my midwife I would like to give birth at home where I felt safe and relaxed, she smirked through the side of her mouth and said ” you don’t know what is in store for you, this is your first and you will likely be begging to be transfered to hospital.” So I decided not to call her when my waters broke, I didn’t want her assumptions in my birthing space. Instead I danced and sang to my baby as my love filled up our water pool, I relaxed in the water and visualised the same birth I had painted, chanting calm, relaxed, open. I remember thinking I must have many hours ahead as I hadn’t felt any pain yet, me and my love in the water breathing deep through intense waves of immense energy, and then my baby was born, he came swimming in to my arms, and I was totally in shock that he had arrived so soon as I hadn’t felt a moment of pain. Rushes of ecstacy flowing over me as I cradled our boy. Every woman deserves the right to birth her baby where she feels safest. Every woman deserves access to medical care if she chooses to seek it. I collected all my positive birth mantras and drawings and compiled them into a positive pregnancy and birth colouring book available on my website

Rose Orion sells many of her original paintings and art prints via her Instagram and Facebook pages along with some of her unique handmade garments. The artist is also a professional musician. Her songwriting explores themes similar to those in her paintings, honoring the great mother and the wombs that birthed all the people on earth. She performs concerts with her band Mobius Loop across the UK and Europe. To see more of Orion’s work or to contact the artist, check out @roseorionart on Instagram and Facebook.

2023 Exhibition Poster – Rose Orion’s “Portal” Paintings