Acrylic Palette Knife Painting
Above: Potency (Sold)
Below: Asanti (Sold)
I have been experimenting with a gooey substance with paper and glue. It is a premixed papier mache product. It hardens nicely and does not break and shatter like ceramic (although one of my pieces was broken just befgore entering it in a juried show) One of the difficulties and the tricks to success is, of course, a successful armature. It has needed as much thought and creative juice to make one as it is to make the final sculpture. I would work with clay, but really need a class. There is not one available for sculpture and modeling. I don’t want to throw pots so I have been on hold for one of those for years.
My mother’s youngest sister was naturally blond and beautiful. She loved to have fun. It seemed to me that there was a light all around her…..a cheerful shimmer. As a little girl I was drawn to it. Her mother and my mother called her Alice Lee because she was named for her aunt, my grandmother’s sister, Alice Green. Adding the Lee distinguished the two Alice’s.
She was a fabulous aunt. Though she invited my brother, who was the same age as her son, to go on family vacations, she included me too. She liked to mother us all. My brother and I were spending long summers with her and her husband and son when we were too young to be anything but bathed, dressed and cared for like children of her own. Her pancakes were just the yummiest breakfast that would get us ready to go out on some adventure. At my current age, I am impressed that she took two small children into her family life just for fun.
We often stayed in Carthage at her house and drove to Aberdeen Lake to swim or to the municipal pool in Sanford. If she and her husband planned to go to Carolina Beach or White Lake for a week or two, my little brother and I were included. It was only because of being a guest of hers that I was able to learn to swim. I never went anywhere to swim while at my own home.
The lake and the beach still had the big old cabins with screened porches that I miss now. We set up housekeeping for the time we were there. I remember going crabbing with Alice Lee and the two little boys and catching and netting crabs….blue points she called them. We took them home in a bucket of marsh water and she cooked them (live). It was a shocker but this new eastern dish was new and unusual for me and it was exciting to try something different. I learned about how people on the coast would eat. I remember big oyster roasts on the beach in hte evenings with all the people who were in the surrounding cabins gathered around the fire having a party while cracking open the oysters with knives. They didn’t all know each other when the roast started but by the end of the evening they were friends.
Sometimes Alice Lee would go out in the evening with her husband and leave us with a sitter. I would watch her get dressed and put on her makeup and fix her hair. It was a lesson in femininity for me. I felt assured that I would grow up to be beautiful just like she was. One night she took us all with her to a square dance in a large pavilion at the beach. I remember what an event it was for me. I watched the adults whirling around the big room and we three kids danced in the corner.
When I would go to her home for a visit, she would always say, “We are going to have such fun”!
I used to muse about why she was so fun loving. It seems that all my family generations were just so spread out. My grandfather, her father was born in 1862 (during the Civil War) and died when I was four. My grandmother, born in 1875, lived to be over 90, however, and died a year after I was married. I was born when my mother was 36. I felt that I did not have a clear picture of who my grandparents were in their youth. I knew them when they were old. My grandmother told me that my grandfather fell in love with her when she was very young….under aged… and decided to wait for her to grow up. He not only waited for her to come of age, he waited until she had finished college and taught school for a few years before he married her. My mother and her brother were born when my grandmother was in her early thirties (my grandfather was in his forties). When Alice Lee was born, in 1916, my Granny (her mother) would have been 41 but my Papa (her father) would have been 54.
He was a farmer and a hard working man. He did not have a large farm and Granny sold eggs and butter to pay for piano lessons for my mother (who eventually earned a music degree from Greensboro College) and to pay tuition for Alice Lee when she later went to Woman’s College in Greensboro.
When Alice Lee was still a kid, her older sister, my mother, would be starting college. Alice Lee would have been left at home with parents who were quite old for a youngster. So, I have to think that my Granny and Papa were fun loving and gave her a bright outlook on life that she carried with her. It has always been an interesting insight to me, because I had a picture of people who worked hard all day and had very little to show for it as being glum and cheerless. But how could a pretty little girl come out of such down trodden family and be sunny and happy? Her aging mother and father must have had a positive outlook on life. Good for them!
When she was alone at home with her parents her father suffered a serious stroke. After that, he could no longer farm and they moved from the country to Sanford. Later, in the middle of WWII, I would be born in Sanford and brought to their home from the hospital.
I was to spend many a wonderful summer with my Granny learning to paint and crochet and cook and take care of my clothes. I learned how to treat all the various fabrics and Granny, who had a treadle sewing machine, taught me to sew. During these summers with my grandmother, Alice Lee always stopped by to check in and would take me to a movie or swimming or shopping for something new to wear to school in the fall. She was truly a second mother.
When I was a teenager, she finally had a beautiful little girl of her own and this little girl was less the tomboy that I tended to be. Alice Lee had made a great mother for a son and now, her daughter would bring her many years of joy as she grew up and would be a steadfast help to her in her old age. When my little cousin was a baby I sat for her a few times but not often as I did not live nearby.
Alice Lee became an artist after her retirement from teaching school and she was very skilled for one who had not studied art before. I had majored in art so we had something new in common. She was a watercolorist and I thought that required a great deal of discipline.
I continued to visit her and to be close to her as the years went by but, in my own advancing years, my stamina has failed me and driving at night is stressful. I was fearful of making trips to see her and then having to come home in the same day. I was afraid darkness would catch me. My visits to her dropped off and I let her down in her last years. Dementia set in and I selfishly did not want to see her in that condition because I was afraid she would remind me of my own mother at that age and state of mind.
I usually maintain my composure for a funeral. I gave a eulogy for my father without my voice breaking once. But at Alice Lee’s funeral, in Carthage, where I remembered so many wonderful times, and at the graveyard beside my grandparents in Sanford, I lost it. She was the last of that generation to go and my last link with my own parents with whom I shared a very strong bond. “Age is a lonely time,” my father once said. “Your family starts to die off and your friends are showing up on the obituary page.” I guess it has started. Old age. We feel like we didn’t quite finish what we started. It is the timeless cycle we cannot escape.
Had she been cognitive, I think Alice Lee would have been smiling when she died. She had a good life. She made sure she had fun.
In December a band called Buschovski had a CD release party at a local theatre called The Neighborhood Theatre. My son has been very absorbed and invoved with this group and this CD has been years in the making. I took a new camera to try it out. The techies had the fog machine cranked so all the shots were shot through a pea soup of haze, It is interesting. I hope to shoot the band in a clearer venue soon.
I believe I was told this was an engagement photo. Doris Gray was my mother in law for almost 43 years. We had a good relationship….as I told one of her grandchildren at her funeral….maybe better then the ones she had with her four children because she really had no “say” over me and seemed to accept me as I came into the family. I know I am still wanting to continue mothering my two grown kids so maybe it never stops
Doris and I had both earned degrees in art from the same school, though not in the same year, of course. We could have one on one visits and talk about a printmaking process or teaching methods. Though we did discuss her son, my husband, he was not often the main topic of our discussions. She was a public school teacher in both English and art and I have been know to teach a little art to kids. We had a few topics that we could talk about.
A divorce in the mid 50’s left her a single mother when single mothers were not nearly so acceptable as they are today. She had four children to raise and educate. I know that feeding them was enough work but she also had to be the disciplinarian and the one to instill the values they have all passed down to their own children. I have often marveled at her strength to do it. I would have been a royal b–ch most of the time from the stress of it all. Though my husband went to live with his father when he was 16, he has much to thank his mother for. First of all he is a wonderful writer and has a command of English that enables him to use it like it use my paint brushes. Secondly, he was attracted to me, an artist, and, so, I am sure that artists were people he admired.
My first baby was her first grandchild and Doris really contributed to the celebration of adding this child to the family. She wanted the grands to call her “Mimi” and there were 9 more to follow the first who loved their “Mimi”.
Her last years were not her best. Cancer was a tough fight but, she recovered. Age kept her in a bed most of the time. A retirement center in her community was home to her for her last years and she made the closest of friends there. They were the kind of friends who could take the measure of person rather astutely and chose Doris Gray to admire and love.
My husband was taking his turn at her bedside when she died at 2:30 AM on Oct 15, 2008
Doris will be missed because she may have held the family together. After the death of my father’s mother, I never saw much of my twenty two cousins again. We just drifted apart. I hope these ten stay connected. Family is important. Family usually sticks with you no matter what you do.