Making Memories with Art

You might think that the painting you’re looking at was drawn by one of our grandchildren. You would be wrong. This painting was made recently by my older sister.

4th of July

Some of you may remember that my sister is living in a retirement community about 90 miles from where my husband and I live. I make the drive to visit with her at least once a week — weather permitting.

The community has a lot of activities for the residents, including occasional art projects. We all know that art can be very therapeutic — physically, mentally, and emotionally — and the red, white, and blue painting above was done to celebrate our recent Fourth of July holiday and to honor memories. Residents were given a blank canvas, a few brushes, and a set of “patriotic” paints. They were asked to paint something they remembered from the Fourth of July holiday.

Each time I visit with Jill, I show her paintings I’ve been working on. On a recent visit, though, it was the other way around. She was excited to show me the painting she’d made. She laughed and said she was sure I would have no idea what it was.

Au contraire, ma souer! 

“It’s down at the farm where we always shot off fireworks over the pond. There’s the pond, and that’s the boat dock.” I looked a little closer. “You lost your friendship ring in the shallow water at the edge of the pond — yes, there’s the ring — and you were scared out of your wits when a snake popped its head up. That snake must be in the picture. Yep, I see it.”

She stared at me in amazement. “You knew what it was?” Yes, of course I knew what it was because it was not only her memory, but my memory as well. Even with her simple stick-figure drawing, she had captured that memory quite clearly.  She was thrilled that I understood what her painting was all about.

And then, on Fourth of July, I had a bit of a thrill, too. No, we didn’t watch any fireworks — we go to bed much too early for that — but we did have an older grandson visiting. He spent a little time down at the fishing lake, then came back to the house to enjoy a bit of dessert. As he walked toward the kitchen he glanced at one of the paintings on my easel. You’ve seen it before:

Summer Morning at White Oak Lake
Summer Morning at White Oak Lake, Oil on Canvas Panel, 18 x 24

“Hey, Grandma! You painted the fishing lake!”  Yes, he recognized the scene. Of course, maybe it was only because he’d walked past that particular location a short time before, but it made me feel good. I liked feeling that I had painted something that would be part of someone’s Fourth of July memories.

As we grow older, we realize each day how important it is to make happy memories with our families, with our friends, with our passions, our interests, our hobbies. Art is a wonderful way of making memories. We make memories each time we share the activities of drawing and painting with children and grandchildren, and we can make memories, too, with our paints and brushes, memories that we can share, memories that will live on not only in our hearts, but in our art.



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