The highlight of my childhood summers was the week or two I would spend staying with my Grandmother. She was an incredible woman full of life and vitality well into her 90s. She was known for her fearless can do spirit, a true pioneer woman who at 13 had driven the covered wagon when her family moved “out west”. When her husband never got around to her request of removing a wall in their home, she just did it herself. Even later in life you might find her sawing the legs off of a table to turn it into a coffee table, or doing other remodeling projects in her home. In my eyes, she could do just about anything.
Whatever the popular crafting of the day was, she tried it. She made dolls, waxed ornaments, and sewed bean bag frogs on her treadle sewing machine. Her studio was her kitchen table, or sunny back porch. The ultimate resourceful repurposer and upcycler long before those words were coined, she looked around her for crafting supplies, and everything was fair game. She made salt dough, shrunk apples for doll heads, used corn husks, twigs, dirt and wheat straw in her mixed media paintings, and painted acrylics on brown paper sacks. She painted her bottles of dish detergent, glued pretty papers onto jars, and painted new faces on old dolls. She could create magic with even the most mundane household item.
She was a latecomer to painting. She waited until her children were grown and then, in her 50s or so, dove into painting with a passion. When she started painting over her own paintings because she had run out of canvas, her family started buying her artwork from her to preserve the paintings, and finance her art supplies. When I would stay for my summer visit, we would have painting parties, and a love for the magic that paint could work was born in me. She encouraged me to take the $9 plunge to purchase my own set of acrylic paints, promising me that if I regretted the purchase she would buy them from me. Of course I never regretted it, and am still purchasing paint!
Though she was gone before my children were raised and my own artistic passions began to blossom, her legacy lives on. She influenced and ignited so much of who I have become. Now it is my turn to pass that on. In my new little nook in my studio, I have a child size table. My four year old granddaughter recently spent her first afternoon with me in the studio, creating together. I am so blessed to have that opportunity!
A local art group is initiating a mentoring project that pairs an “older” artist with a young person interested in art. We will create a project together that will be completed in July. What a great idea! I can’t think of a better way to honor the memory of my dear Grandmother. Happy Mother’s Day Grandma!