Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Mother's Paintings

As part of the ongoing repair and repaint program constantly going on around here, my 93 year old mother, Lucille, has been indispensable.  In fact, she is the CEO of Painting & Decoration at Quarry Garden.

Our garden gate
I know I've posted about our old wooden garden gate before, but in case you don't recall, we found the picket fence section in a landfill years ago and Carl put the hinges on it for me, turning into a gate.  I then enlisted my mother's help and artistic talents into transforming it into a thing of beauty.  Since the weather is hard on the paintings, Mom has always done restoration work whenever I ask.

 All last winter Mom was hard at work repainting the gate.  She used pictures out of magazines as models for her art work of the birds and butterflies.  

Now I have to repaint the post and railing.
Once Mom had the gate done, she was rather sad.  It was around January when she finished and she was restless.  A few years ago, Mom painted one of our rain barrels for us and it was very pretty, so I asked her if she'd like to paint two more.

The first rain barrel painted four years ago.  Mom says it needs work.
 She was a little anxious about the assignment because she didn't know what I wanted on two more big fifty gallon drums, but I told her to go with her heart and anything she painted would be perfect.

Little did I know how seriously Mom would take this assignment; she worked on those two rain barrels for months.  She knew she had a deadline, the August tenth garden walk and booyah party, and kept telling me she didn't think she'd be done.  She kept painting over her previous work and changing and adding things.

Since things were extremely  hectic here and we were working on getting the gardens ready, I really didn't take the time to check out Mom's painting progress.   The day of  the walk, she said Joel could come and pick up the barrels.

 I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the end result:

I was so pleased.  She had two ducks floating on a pond with spruce trees and butterflies in the background.
An oak tree in fall colors with birds on the other side.
There are fish swimming on the bottom of the lake.
 More colorful flowers on the top of the first rain barrel.

Here's the second barrel:
She found a picture of a dog named Molly in the newspaper and recreated it here.

Mom said 'Molly' belonged to a person in a nearby city and they had won an award for the photo of their dog.  I think Mom should win an award for her painting.

When I saw the work she had done on these barrels, I was completely stunned.  Look at how much time and attention she put into these paintings and I'm going to let them sit outside?  I felt sad about this.   She sat on her kitchen floor painting the lower sections of the barrels, can you imagine?   I would find that hard to do at my age, and I'm almost forty years younger than my mother.

As I went around the barrel, I saw more details....look at the big white rooster on the bottom, below the butterflies and flowers.

More trees, and what's that?  

Hickety Pickety, my black hen.  Looks just like our Girls.  Mom teased that this hen laid that Golden Egg.

And above the hen, a curious dog peers over the garden gate.  Another painting from a photograph in a magazine.

I was already teary eyed when I looked at all the work she had been doing, until I turned the barrel around and saw the painting above.  This is my mother's rendition of an aerial photograph of our family farm taken in 1964.  I was amazed at the detail she was able to reproduce.  And my tears were falling openly now.  I'd been overly focused on getting the gardens ready while my health was going downhill at the same time and I hadn't paid attention to Mom's project.

 The farmhouse as it looked back then, with my mother's ever present flower beds.

The barn, silos, cowyard, corn crib and machine shed.

 Mom would argue that her artwork is nothing special and I shouldn't make a fuss over it, but I beg to disagree with her.  I told her I'm afraid to use the rain barrels because I don't want to take a chance on her paintings being ruined.  She wasn't concerned, but I am.  I should have looked into getting her something besides acrylic paint because I'm not sure how well the paint will stay on the plastic barrels over time.  The barrels are safely tucked in the garage for the winter, but I do wish I'd thought ahead.

Joel put Mom's rain barrels on display in Castle Aaargh for the garden walks and booyah party and I made sure to tell everyone it was her artwork.  I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of these barrels and what her work means to me.

After the party was over, Mom was at loose ends again.  No more paintings to do.  She said she missed the challenge.   Her 93rd birthday was August 21, and I went and bought her three blank artist canvases and some fancy paints and brushes.  When she opened the presents, she seemed confused since the canvases were blank.  

For years we've been buying her paint by number kits and she loves to work on them, but I told her the art she drew on those barrels was priceless to me.  I asked her to reproduce the farm painting on one of those canvases.  I told her I want to frame it and keep it forever.  She looked at me rather quizzically and shook her head uncertainly.  

"You want me to paint the farm again?  What are you going to do with it?"

"Frame it and hang it on the wall."

"Oh, c'mon, you really want that hanging on your wall?  In the house, or outside?  I'm no artist."

"Yes, I do want this hanging on my wall inside my house, and Yes, you are an artist."

"What about the other two?  What should I paint on them?"

"Anything your heart desires, Mom."  

Again, she threw me a searching glance and seemed embarrassed, but yet pleased.

Since August, Mom's been hard at work reproducing the aerial farm view for me.   I've had a glimpse of her progress and it's very good.  I can't wait to bring it home.  Every time if I ask if it's ready, she tells me she has to add a few more details.  I'm thinking it will be the perfect Christmas present for me.

And I also can't wait to see what she paints on the other two canvases.  I'm going to buy her some more blank ones for Christmas this year. She's going to be one busy Artist.

Her paintings will always be cherished.


Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

WOW, your mother is very talented. I can't believe that she is 93 - God love her. The fence and the barrels are amazing. She is very good.
Have a wonderful week.

Carol said...

How precious! Could you put some clear poly urethane over the paint to seal it and preserve it? I have a desk I am re doing and I wish she could paint the desk top for me! how wonderful her work is.

Junebug said...

OMGoodness!!! I love, love your Mom's paintings. No wonder she is so chipper at 93. She has keep her imaginations in top gear!! Can't wait top see your post on the canvas!! Hugs to you and your Mom!!

outlawgardener said...

Bless your mom's heart! How special these paintings are. I was thinking the same thing as Carol about some way of sealing the paint. They might have ideas at an art supply store about how to protect these precious works from the elements.

Alison said...

Lucille is such a treasure! I wish I had a Lucille here to paint things for me. I love your gate and your new barrels.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

I love your Mom's style, country primitive.

Her painting of that dog with his doghouse, was absolutely wonderful. The eyes are so sweet.

The old farm scene is wonderful too.

The chickens are neat, the butterflies and flowers so colorful and happy.

She has talent, and it is wonderful for her that you have encouraged her at this time in her life. She inspires me.

I LOVE the gate!

She most definitely painted with her heart.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


africanaussie said...

Wow your Mom has amazing talent! That is awesome to find something that gives her pleasure and will in turn bring you pleasure every time you look at it. I have a canvas that my daughter painted for me to hang in a courtyard years ago and it has travelled with me as I have moved several times. Now I have no-where to put it and dont want it exposed to the weather.

Tufa Girl said...

Oh my! I would have been overwhelmed by doing the gate. As a matter of fact, I have a blank wall in the loft garden, I can't pick one color. Your mom is quite the treasure.

Peonies & Magnolias said...

How awesome to have your Mom paint for you, they are gorgeous!


My Garden Diaries said...

Your mom's work is fantastic friend! Oh my goodness! Her colors are beautiful as are the details in every piece! I can not believe that garden gate!!! And those rain barrels!!!! What a blessing to have those gifts from her! She is amazing!!! Nicole

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Wow, Karen! Your mom is most certainly an artist! I love the gate and all the details on the barrels.

How are you feeling these days?

Yes, the summer did fly by. Like you, I do hope winter goes by as quickly.

Pam's English Garden said...

Amazing, Karen! Now I know where you get your talent with stained glass. P.x

Pamela Gordon said...

HI Karen, I'm just visiting around and getting caught up with my blog friends today. Your mother's paintings are delightful and so full of colour. What a talented lady she is! You are so lucky to have her still and that she is able to do this beautiful artwork. Amazing!