Painting for Justice & Integrity, by Wendy DeRaud

Van Putt Baby, oil painting by Mark DeRaud



This painting belongs to my friend Katharine, who has one of the biggest hearts I know. It didn't surprise me that she wanted to buy it and hang it in her hair salon, because she is like the woman in the painting and cares for the broken, the abandoned, the unwanted.

The woman in the painting is actually Marlene, Mark's mom, who always took in strays like Katharine does. She is holding our daughter Madeline, as a baby, who really has all her limbs, unlike the baby in the painting.

The story behind this painting is from a story that Mark read in the news years ago. In the Netherlands, a couple went to court because their baby was born without arms and legs, and they wanted the court's permission to have their baby put to death. And guess what, they did. The whole courtroom broke out in applause at the verdict, and the couple were lauded for their "brave" decision to rid themselves of the inconvenient child.

That was years ago, and today, that sentiment has continued to develop in our culture. The painting was painted in defiance of that deception, and in support of the heart that is truly just, like that of Katharine and Marlene and other true saints of compassion.

Unfortunately, these days, social justice has become a divisive tool in our culture, pitting people against each other rather than inspiring others to be better. Instead of using justice as a weapon to harm, Mark's paint brush has created this image to attract us to a different view, one of memorializing the inconvenient love that is often needed in our world today. We look to the examples all around us, the single woman I know who cares for two elderly parents and a sister with Downs Syndrome. Her passion for music is her outlet, and she uses that to help and bless others. She is utterly self-giving.

Through the beautiful jewel tones of Marlene's dress, and the complete focus on the child in the warmth of her embrace, this image gives us a glimpse into a world that we desperately need to understand and emulate. This is the picture of true sacrificial love.

"While our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all." Ray Bradbury, preface, Zen in the Art of Writing