The other day, while I was over at Pops’ place, looking at some of his new projects, I discovered an old watercolor painting, hidden back among some old scraps. I pulled it out and asked him who did it.
Come to find out, it was the very first watercolor painting he had ever done.
It was 1966 – around the time I was born. That would have made him about 24 years old. He had majored in art at Greensboro College, but painting in oils was what he had focused on while a student. Watercolor painting didn’t become an interest until a few years after college.
I watched him as he held the paper up to the window light, critiquing his work – how he had “put lots of effort into the shadows and highlights” on the brass pitcher and that his painting technique was now much more effortless and free-flowing. I had to agree with his assessment.
You have to start somewhere to get to where you want to be. Funny thing is, I think he’s still on the journey, and that’s an awesome thing – watching him play with new techniques and seeing the sparkle in his almost-eighty-year-old eyes is a gift.
I took the painting and carefully placed it in his portfolio, letting him know that since it had been “rediscovered”, it would be kept out of the scraps and shared for a long, long time to come.
My apologies – it’s been a while since my last post. Life has a funny way of pulling you off your game and sending you running in a different direction on a whim. That’s what it’s been like since I last wrote in November. Holiday stresses, illness, and continuing to adjust to life outside the normal 40+ hour work week kept me from doing one of the things I love most – sharing stories.
This story is about how Momma’s Flowers helped me regain a sense of purpose.
This is a little 3 x 4 painting that Nancy (I prefer “Momma”) created in the mid-1970s. Dad framed it using some of the moulding scraps from his shop. She loved to dabble in paints, macrame, and simple crafts and would smear Mod Podge over almost anything she could find.
This little painting ended up with me somehow, and it’s been packed up, moved, and displayed several times throughout my life’s journey.
One of the things I promised to do after “retiring” from my career in education was to become involved with helping raise awareness and support for scleroderma research.
Oh, wait a minute… I’m jumping ahead a bit. Let me go back a bit and tell you why this is important.
Around 1976, Momma started developing issues with the use of her hands. The skin on her fingers began to tighten and toughen as if they were petrified. Her fingers curled, and cracked at the joints to the point where she had to place Band-Aids on them. Eventually, it became difficult for her to complete daily tasks such as holding a fork or getting dressed.
And it also put an end to her painting.
The disease was extremely rare – the doctors at the time knew little about its origin and whether there was a cure. So she and dad made numerous visits to specialists over the next two years. During that time, the disease had spread from her extremities to her internal organs. She went from an active volunteer in my sixth grade class and an amazing dancer to a captive spirit, depending on a wheelchair to move about the house.
On January 3, 1978, after spending five days in the hospital with two cardiac arrests and failing kidneys, due to complications from systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), Momma passed away.
She was only 35 years old.
Flash forward over 44 years to this moment. Let’s get back to the point I made about wanting to raise awareness about this disease.
After one evening of sitting in my home/office/studio, moping around about how I felt I had “lost my sense of purpose,” it felt as if Momma spoke to me through her little painting. I looked at it, noticing how bright and cheery the little white flowers were and how I could see her initials “NT” in the bottom corner. Then it hit me.
I could take her creative expression and share it with the world… AND I could also use it to help raise awareness about scleroderma and support for a cure.
And so, I did.
I created “Momma’s Flowers” pendants and notecards. And for each one that I sell between now and June 29, 2022 (Rare Disease Awareness Day), I will donate 35% of each item’s price to the National Scleroderma Foundation.
If you’re interested in helping me support this organization, please visit my shop site by clicking on the “SHOP” link at the top of this page. You’ll find them among my collection.
…and, YES. I used Mod Podge on my jewelry. Just like Momma did. 🙂
I’ve been passing through Thomasville, North Carolina, most all of my life. As a child, it was around the halfway point on the trip to visit my grandparents.
Stretching my little five-year-old neck out of the passenger side window of Momma’s ‘69 Camaro to see the Big Chair, I always marveled at how someone was able to build that thing, let alone climb up to have a seat in it.
Seems I can recall my grandfather telling me that Santa Claus had a hand in building it so he could have a place to rest on Christmas eve.
He had a talent for making a “tall-tale” sound believable… and I never doubted him.
Even though my grandparents and Momma have passed on, as has that beloved vehicle, I still find myself taking the old way through downtown Thomasville on the way to visit the cemetery. It feels like a step back in time – old storefronts still much the same as I remember, and those wonderful train tracks that jostle you silly as you cross them.
It’s even more exciting when your trip is paused for a few minutes, as a passing train makes its way through town. For that moment, time stands still.
And I look over at the Big Chair and wonder if Santa still makes his rest stop there.
The artwork you’ve seen here is available on my Etsy shop in an assortment of prints and notecards.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been retired from education almost a full year now. That chapter took me thirty-two years to complete, and I feel pretty good about how it ended. Now, I’m working on a new chapter, and it’s much different that the previous one – not as organized and predictable. Some of the old characters and scenery are no longer here, and the plot has changed a bit, too.
Actually, right now, I’m not sure there actually is a plot. And that’s not a bad thing.
Some days are filled with productivity, and others… well, they all begin to blur into a self-imposed stupor of mid-morning Netflix binges (I’m a sucker for the “Virgin River” series right now) and a lost sense of time and space. Today, I looked at the clock and felt a bit guilty for not having done what I used to feel was a respectable amount of work.
Pops (that’s what I call my father) says that, in retirement, “Every day is a Saturday.” I’m starting to understand what he means a bit more than I did a year ago.
But regardless of what actual day it is, I find myself both excited and a bit apprehensive about this new business venture. I’m happy that Pops has a new sense of purpose by joining me on this journey, and he’s working away at new paintings and creative ideas for us to run up the proverbial flag pole to see if they fly. I wanted him to join me in this new chapter because he knows how to run an art business. And he’s one of the best salesmen I’ve ever seen.
He also tells me not to take myself too seriously.
So, I’m going to enjoy myself here at BlondeSighted Art… and maybe have a little more fun than in the previous chapter. I hope you’ll join me.