Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Family Portraits




I am not much of an interior decorator, nor as I am beginning to realize, a very snappy dresser. I am just happy to have a clean, functional place to live and work and trip over Hot Wheels. I have pieces of some of my favorite artists, but I keep them put away, mostly, and take them out to look at them, then I put them away again. I really dislike looking at my own finished works. They are distracting, and all I can see is the places where they fell short of my ideas.

I make exceptions for these two pieces. The top one is a portrait of my mother, when she was 16. The other is the portrait of my grandmother in her wedding dress. And I don't keep them because I think they are great pieces of work, but because they are the biggest most important symbols of who I am and where I'm from.

I remember the muddy green smell of the Monongahela in the summer, winding through our town laced with train tracks. Steaming hot dinners at the American Legion, coffee poured by veterans of WW2. Touching the nail heads on old chairs upholstered in green marbled vinyl. Paper tablecloths. The plain, clean insides of small houses. The smell of real wool coats and ladies perfume. Babushkas. Simple sufficiency and dignity. I keep these up so I can remember who I am and how I should act.

10 comments:

My name is PJ. said...

I identified with this post, Julie. I have several nice pieces of art and I display them right along with less skilled works - like the a painting of the house in which my mom was born.

Love the tripping over hotwheels. Been there, done that.

daisydolls said...

There is nothing like those photos or paintings you grew up looking at to remind you of where you came from & certain smells that bring you back to a chapter from your past...... Nice post!

moneythoughts said...

You know Moneythoughts is going to get on you again to write and illustrate. You have a talent Julie and I think you should use it to make a better life for yourself and your family. I think you have a lot of wonderful things to say, and I will bet there are a lot people out there that would like to hear them.

I enjoyed this post very much and I hope you will try to put a book together. While it may not get publish, although I think it would, your children would love to read it some day.

Kass said...

It's true, you have an unusual way with words. People are drawn to them and to your paintings. The first one looks like it was done by one of the Flemish Masters. The second one is strangely appealing in the pose. It's static, caught in time, somehow mysterious. The folds in the dress are excellently done. Very, very nice.

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

I love old photographs...especially when they have special meaning.

Viki said...

I really couldn't see the portrait of your mother but I loved the one of your grandmother. You did a beautiful job. I love how her dress billows (if that's the correct word) out. I wonder if most artists that are good, and you are one of them, when they see their work look at the flaws they think they see in them. Because honestly in your grandmother's portrait all is see is the excellent work, Really!!

Tina said...

Loved your description of childhood memories. Vivid so that I could picture it. I'd love to see a closer look at your mom's portrait. Your grandmother's dress is amazingly done. I love the way you captured the train.

Jenny said...

Julie. I just adore you. In a totally non-weird non-stalking way.

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

How wonderfully special are these portraits! It was fun reading the memories that you have tied with these special women in your life.

Blessings & Aloha!
(finally back home and trying to catch up on blog reading before the next Alphabe-Thursday!) Thank you for stopping by!

spags said...

this is one of my favorite posts ever.