Last week I attended one of those paint-a-picture-in-an-evening events that are trendy right now. My friend, Suzy Castrodale, invited me to an evening in Indy for a girls’ night out . I was grateful to finally get the chance to try my not-so-artistic hand at this. Why not?
My farmer dad loved art and longed to be a painter. He was drawn to traditional landscapes and sweet animal scenes. He had an art studio in our home that consisted of paint brushes of every variety, acrylic paints of every color, sketchpads and canvases waiting to be filled. Mostly, it all waited.
He took weekly art classes for a while and enjoyed browsing art fairs. Once when I was small, we visited a woman’s home in Connersville who had a large collection of art belonging to a former local artist of regional renown. Maybe she was his widow. I’m not sure. But we stayed a long time and left there with one of the artist’s paintings. It hung on our wall in the same spot for the rest of the years my parents had a home.
One thing that disappointed me in my father was that for all his interest, he didn’t paint many pictures. He was forever saying that he had so much to learn first. I remember thinking that we learn best by doing and that he should just go ahead and play with the paints, the brushes, the canvases. But he completed precious few paintings. I am proud to own his favorite of the few, the picture that was framed on my childhood living room wall across from the one he bought in Connersville. My brothers also each got one of dad’s pictures.
I think Dad was a good amateur artist. Maybe he could have even been great. I think he was possibly frustrated that in his day, he wasn’t able to learn and do more with his art. There just didn’t seem to be the opportunities to learn and do more. Or maybe he didn’t take them.
Through the years working at newspapers, I have written about a variety of artists. My favorite among them has always been Marilyn Witt of Straughn and I was blessed to have her consent to create the cover for both my novels. The paint isn’t even dry (so to speak) on the new one—but it is done! But we’ll talk about that later.
It has been a treat to work with her and see how she, without exception, responds graciously to my ideas and she used her talented vision to get both pictures just right to fit the goals we had for the covers.
And also, I always knew that my dad would have loved Marilyn’s art.
I’m not so sure what Dad would think about mine. I didn’t show my painting to Brian, for fear of a sarcastic remark of one kind or another. But to my surprise, he saw the picture without me pointing it out first, and he told me—unsolicited—that it’s pretty good.
I don’t know about that. But I don’t hate it.
It was a new experience. It was fun. I’d do it again.