Submitted by Kim on Sep, 27
Portable Aluminum Easel
This was my maternal grandfather's easel. He was a professional painter, though he wouldn't have described himself that way. He had a day job working for the land office drafting maps and stuff at the Shawinigan Power and Water Company. He always painted a lot though for most of his life. He was my first art teacher. So he set me up when I was seven, just like him I had an easel, a palette, and oils, but I painted from my imagination. He painted from photographs. My mother was also very artistic. But with me he was very encouraging. With my mother, he was not so much. He entered me into contests and I only learned later in my life that I had been in and won awards at juried shows, as a child! One of my vivid memories of oil painting with him was when I was a little kid. He used turpentine as a solvent so I used the turpentine to clean all the oil off myself. I like to say that if it weren't for all the turpentine exposure I could have been a genius. My grandmother was very artistic in a different way. She was a writer and an actor. She used to help him with his photographs that he used for his paintings. It was really nice. He always underpriced his work but he sold SO much of his work. I only have very little myself because you know, the paintings are just all over Canada now! He died when I was eleven. He died just before all the massive developing stages happened, where I became obviously and recognizably more skillful. But the fact that I inherited this easel, they're touchstones for me. They connect me to him as I develop as an artist. I'm a professional artist now which I think he would really really love. He told my mother "if you want to starve, you should be an artist" which is very sad. She still refuses to draw. I try to tell my students "artists take a million paths to make their life". It's all a question of the balance you find. You have to keep the balance so that you can do the work for yourself. My God, he was born in 1899! His whole worldview never could have accounted for what we have now. He was a United Empire Loyalist. That was, the people who were loyal to the British during the American Revolution. They had to fight their way up to Canada, and were rewarded with some land here later on. It's a whole thread in Canadian history that's kind of an unsung story.