Documenting an Artist's Family Tree
While visiting my parents recently, I was thinking a good bit about our familial history as artists. I delight in the knowledge that my one of Great-Grandmothers, Emma, was an accomplished painter. It is somehow thrilling to feel connected by interest and accomplishment to a family member that I never had the opportunity to know. Emma seems to have been rather a prolific painter, as there are many dozens of painted ceramic pieces that ended up in my Grandparent's home, as well as stories of the reproductions she created of Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough and Pinkie by Thomas Lawrence (the originals are a part of the permanent collection at the Huntington Art Gallery in Pasadena).
In considering, the connection to artists with whom I am related, I concluded that the members of my immediate family, who had a more direct influence on my development, are extraordinarily creative in their own right. My parents between the two of them have studied or practiced at graphic design, architecture, pottery, painting, woodworking, quilting, knitting and figure drawing (and probably other artistic subjects of which I am unaware). Though my father's professional path was in manufacturing management, they are both accomplished as designers and artists. Growing up, this had a profound effect on the quality of my school projects. My mother provided tutelage in layout, lettering, and shading, which resulted in science fair boards and graphics for book reports, which likely far exceeded the level of work expected of an elementary school student. After I expressed an interested in architecture, my father educated me in making pencil sketches of buildings using perspective.
Particularly in my young life, they both quietly undertook a variety of creative endeavors, many of which resulted in usable objects. My dad designed and built the crib that my sister and I used, in addition to a changing table, coffee table, display shelves, toy storage shelves, bird house, and serving trays. My mom embroidered clothes for us, designed and executed a quilted playhouse (4 beautiful panels held together by a dowel rod frame, which my Dad constructed), and designed beautiful birth announcements and birthday invitations. In addition, she volunteered many hundreds of hours at our schools: advising students in the design of yearbooks, designing beautiful signs for our pre-school, undertaking a project which involved painting billboard sized letters that spelled out "thank you," and many other assorted projects.
Given these ongoing creative endeavors, it's no wonder that my sister and I took on some tendency toward creativity. My sister, who is extraordinarily attentive to detail has created beautiful ceramics and sews and knits beautiful bags, scarfs, and blankets. I really enjoyed taking these snapshots and pondering my family tree from an different perspective.
What have you "inherited" from your family?