There’s nothing like seeing a sonogram (the image you get from an ultrasound scan) of the baby growing inside of you. It’s the most gorgeous, magical image to an expectant mom, even if it may look like a blob or an alien to everyone else. But one mom and artist in Ireland is turning these grainy, mysterious images into stunning works of art.
Laura Steerman, a 35-year-old artist and mom of three based in Dublin, Ireland, creates abstract sonogram paintings with her business, Quaint Baby Bespoke Ultrasound Art. Steerman tells Babble that while she works as an attorney to pay the bills, she makes art to feed her soul. Steelman began painting her own daughter’s scans after experiencing several movement scares during her pregnancy.
“Each scan showed she was doing just fine despite the lack of kicks, but I felt the black and white blurry images just didn’t do her precious self justice,” says Steerman. “So I took out the paints at my kitchen table at home and got painting. It’s a hobby turned small business as friends requested paintings, they shared photos of them on social media, and it went from there.”
Steerman says that her favorite part of the process is connecting with clients and hearing their stories.
“It’s storytelling and capturing memories, emotions, personalities, pregnancy, and parenthood in a painting … No two experiences or babies are the same.”
Steerman says her unique, affordable, and colorful artwork is meant to commemorate and celebrate each family’s pregnancy adventure.
“Something really unique, stylish and a real talking point to proudly hang in your home,” she says.
The talented mother of 3 kids under 6 shares that people’s reactions to her paintings are remarkable – “ranging from joy, tears and gasps of surprise (in a good way!).”
Steerman says that she feels humbled and privileged to do this work involving such an intimate and special journey for families.
The stories she’s been told that have guided her artwork are incredible and touching. She tells Babble that one client came to her with an ultrasound image after breathing in fumes from the Brussels Airport Bombing in 2016. The woman and her baby were thankfully okay, and her sonogram painting reflected that part of their story — “the joy of travel, undeterred by fear and hatred in the world.”
Another client was an American Navy Seal dad who was away on duty during the pregnancy and commissioned a painting of his son in the womb as a way, Steerman believes, to bond with the baby and to give something lovely to his wife.
Some clients are mothers who have suffered miscarriages, which inspired Steerman to collaborate with the Irish charity Feileacain, which supports parents bereaved before or shortly after birth. A percentage of every painting of Steerman’s sold through their website serves as a donation to the amazing organization.
To have a Quaint Baby painting made, Steerman says that parents first provide a copy of the sonogram (she won’t take originals, saying that they’re far too precious). Next, she explores with her clients their color and style preferences and their pregnancy experience so that she can best capture their baby’s budding personality. For parents who describe their baby as kicking up a storm, she tends to use vibrant, bold colors and plenty of movement. For those whose babies are calmer, she breaks out the pastels and uses gentle paint strokes. Steerman can also create a painting that matches a room, is inspired by a favorite image or photo, or she can surprise a client if requested. Her turnaround time is quick and she ships her work worldwide.
Steerman recently completed an especially unique and moving project. After reading a story about Nicole Taylor, a mother expecting identical twins who both had Down Syndrome (a scenario with odds less than two in a million), Steerman reached out to the photographer for the story, Laura Duggleby, and collaborated with her to surprise Taylor with a painting of her two beautiful girls.
“It was about reaching out as a mum when you naturally feel a desire to support another mum,” says Steerman. “We all do this every day — whether it’s exchanging a glance of understanding, minding another’s kids so one mum can take a well-earned nap, or just being there when a friend needs you. I just reached out to a stranger and painted her baby’s ultrasound scan because I thought she was so very brave and it might make her day.”
It certainly did. Steerman says that parents are amazed to see their vision for their babies come to life on a canvas.
“A lot of mums are kind of stunned to remember that baby grew in their tummy and they shared this remarkable time so closely together.”
It’s so true that pregnancy feels surreal looking back. It’s hard to believe that my babies were once literally a part of me. How amazing it would be to have that precious time preserved in a creative and beautiful painting.