Grandpa’s Paintings


My grandfather is an artist. Deep in the recesses of my grandparents’ basement, paintings are waiting to once again see the light of day. As a small child, I would rush past the startling faces staring out of frames and fling myself into the safety of the room of toys at the end of the hall. Once my cousins had entered the tiny room, we would slam the door shut, hiding from the terrifying art just outside the door. Locked safely in a room full of Hotwheels and other discarded toys, we played for hours. Then, as the daylight trickling down the stairwell slowly receded back toward the safety of the main floor, we edged the door open and scrambled for the steps. Through the doorway, past the paintings, and up the stairs we flew! The boys and I pushed past each other, doing everything we could not to be the last one downstairs with the mysterious paintings.

I’m not sure exactly when I realized that the paintings in the basement were works of my grandfather’s. At some point, I got used to seeing his creations. I never quite got used to running past the hidden gallery though. In the past few years, one of his pieces (which last I heard wasn’t quite finished–though I can’t tell) gained a place of honor in my aunt’s home. His art, hidden for so many years deep within his home, has finally reached up into the sunlight.

Unlike my grandfather, I am not much of an artist. Some might say that I make art with words, and that may be true. But when it comes to sketching, painting, or even coloring… well, my work matches the level of a 3-year-old. I love photography, and I’ve spent hours creating art with my camera. Until this fall, that has been the extent of my talent in the visual arts. However, as the semester began and professors pronounced our doom via assignments, I began to sketch.

This has been a couple months in coming, I guess. My grandfather and I had a nice conversation about art this summer. Sitting in my mom’s van in the Chick-fil-a parking lot one day, my grandparents and I were chatting about life. Somehow, Grandpa and I began talking about his artwork. I asked why he hasn’t created as much art in these past several years. He gave me a response that I can’t quite recall. What really got to me was what followed. I was lamenting my inability to draw or paint or do much of any visual art. Grandpa insisted that I really could, that talent wasn’t near as important as will. If I truly wanted to draw, I could. Grandpa fully believed I was capable. I just needed to apply myself. To be honest, I was rather miffed that he would tell me that! Didn’t he think I had tried? Couldn’t he remember my kindergarten drawings hanging on his fridge? My art hadn’t improved much since then.

Then I started to draw. Grandpa was right. One day I started sketching a face. No one in particular, just a random face that I imagined. Frowning, I scraped my pencil across the page. The eyes were too big, too round, too high. The ears looked like gross blobs protruding from the person’s head. The mouth was like a child’s smiley face. The nose was two sides of a triangle. Eyebrows? Oops… I forgot. And don’t get me started on the hair! My beautiful image was hideous on paper. I grimaced. My roommate leaned over and made some suggestions. Frustrated, I took a handful of her suggestions and tried again. And again.

For days and weeks, I’ve been drawing faces. Men and women, short hair and long hair, attached earlobes and not, round noses and triangular ones. Eyebrows grew on faces. Wrinkles and dimples started to appear. Every once and a while, I’ll put a pair of glasses on a face. I’m getting the hang of it. Now, I still haven’t been able to put that imagined face down on paper. But I’m getting closer. I’m constantly sketching before classes. I’ve found a reason to draw, and I am improving. Grandpa’s art inspired me. Finally, years after the days of rushing past the pictures in his basement, I’ve found my own art.

Now, if you’ll excuse me… I think I’ll go draw for a bit. =)


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