Thursday, February 25, 2010

Following O'Keeffe

My Grandmother decided to take up painting at 70. She signed up for a watercolor workshop. On the second day, she wasn't feeling well, so she sent me. I was seventeen. I had always drawn, but never painted. I learned to paint snow - cabins, fences, and trees in the snow. I learned to paint shadows.

Later, I took another class, in the evening, at the firehouse. (This was during the one year we lived in Kansas, in the same small town as the grandmother and aunts - wonderful, vibrant, funny, sisters. It would have been good for me had I not been completely preoccupied by teenage angst.)

In the second class, I painted with acrylics, copying a photo in a travel magazine - the gold sun sinking into brackish marshland beneath a yellow sky.

Aunt Alice asked if she could hang it in her gallery. I said sure. A few days later she handed me forty bucks. A man had begged her to sell it and she did. I had not given her permission to sell it. It was my first betrayal in the art world. But I didn't say anything. I had already learned it was useless to try to communicate with adults.

So over the years I would paint these small scenes, but only if someone had a birthday, only as gifts. And by the time I envisioned my new life, of following O'Keeffe to New Mexico I wasn't painting at all.

1 comment:

Angel-Star said...

Did you ever have a talent, but then stopped pursuing it? Why do we stop doing the things we are best at?