The next painting in the “The Making Of:” series came as the result of an aunt allowing me to be temporary caretaker of some family items she didn’t have space for in her home. For reasons best not related here this came as a most timely encouragement. So I painted this still life from items that either belonged to, or reminded me of , her mother, my paternal grandmother, from whom those items were passed down.
My early life is sprinkled with the benefits of her many skills.
She was an expert seamstress and quilter. The quilt in this painting contains patches of fabric from which I remember having short sets my Granny made for me to wear in the summer. Every year until I reached adolescence my summer clothes were made by her.
In addition to her skills as a seamstress she could grow any plant. In the first piece of my ‘The continuing discoveries of a 21st century artist and naturalist…’ series I recounted how I learned a great deal about plants from her. Representative of that knowledge is the African Violet on the seat of the cane-bottomed chair beside the canned goods – when she died she had dozens of African Violets some of which had been her companions for over twenty years.
Granny made Chow-Chow and apple butter for her family all of her life and not the grocery store variety. The color was a lovely golden amber and the consistency very much like butter – requiring a knife to retrieve any from the jar. As a result I have never been able to, pardon the pun, stomach the dark-colored and syrupy commercial versions. Also, in the painting are the ladle and dish pan which were used to make and serve her most amazing concoctions – fruit Sonkers.
I believed, until my early thirties, that the family Sonker tradition was her idea. I’ve since learned that the cobbler-like desert is indigenous to the area in which my Granny was born and raised. Most people make them in deep dish pie pans or casserole dishes. My Granny raised eight children as a tenant farmer, much of it alone after my Grandfather died. Apparently feeding what today would be considered an oversize family required an oversize solution so she used the aluminum dish pan pictured here. She continued to do so for her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren until she died.
The cabinet and cane-bottomed chair were hers and the kerosene heater is an exact replica of the one I remember warming up to on cold winter days at her house. Every brush stroke of this painting brought back memories of life with my Granny and the many wonderful gifts we, her descendants, were privileged to enjoy.