Kin, Ancestral Celebration

Today is my Grandmaw Jean’s 91st Birthday. I called her and she told me she loves me, for the first time I believe. Not because she doesn’t love me, but because her generation doesn’t show it. I call my Grandmothers every week. Talking on the phone to my Grandmothers is one of the sweetest gifts of my present life. They are living ancestors, whose formative years were drastically different than your own, yet their experiences from that time are still connected to you, and you can learn from that.

Grandmaw Jean on her 91st Birthday, photograph by Heather Overton

Actually, I love talking to them and my Mother about my art. Which I know is contrary to how most artists feel when they show their family their art. My family lives in a rural society and I value their perspective. Maybe it’s uncool and unhelpful if you want to be edgy, but I’ve always found that the feedback of my friends and family who are on the opposite of the NYC art music milieu gives me clarity(?). I don’t know if clarity is the right word. I will tell my Grandmother I need to add a certain element to the painting and she’ll say, “Well you have to paint it so that it fits, and not just stick it in there.” (Very true.) My Mother recently said, “You need to paint a big masterpiece.” And ya know, she was right. I do need to paint bigger. So I am.

My Dad who is 65 just enrolled in an online watercolor course. I MEAN SERIOUSLY HOW COOL IS THAT. He self taught himself using watercolor books and youtube videos over the last few years. From the paints, paper, color charts, type of brushes, etc… he absorbed a whole new form of expression in his 60’s and works as a picture framer full time. He is about to retire and I am excited for him to paint more. His style reminds me of Charles Burchfield. He only does landscapes, and like Burchfield, they feel spiritual by activating inanimate objects in nature. I do not have any photos of my Dad’s work (I need to change that!) but here are a few Burchfields I like:

Charles Burchfield, Sun and Rocks, 1918-50, watercolor on paper
Charles Burchfield, Glory of Spring (Radiant Spring), 1950, watercolor on paper
Charles Burchfield, An April Mood, 1946-1955, watercolor and charcoal on paper

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