My dad is an artist.
He is 89 and of the Norman Rockwell school of illustration – if the painting isn’t realistic, its no good. He’s 89, he can say whatever he wants. I am an artist as well. People have always asked where I got my talent, or when did I first become an artist, and the answer was that my abilities came from my father. As it turns out, I am a realist as well. I take great delight in capturing personalities in carefully detailed portraits – see the Invest poster of 2020 where my mom and son are two of people rendered.
Having a father who studied at Philadelphia School of Art at age 16 and who is an excellent draftsman has had its pros and cons for me following in his footsteps. He’s an excellent critic in the most helpful and encouraging way. I can trust his eye to help me see what needs tweaking. The biggest confidence booster for me in my teens was when Dad would ask my opinion on one of his paintings. He trusted my eye.
Dad doesn’t paint anymore; in fact, he doesn’t do much any more except watch tv and the birds in the yard. However, I paint and he still critiques. That man may not have a strong memory, but his vision and artist’s brain are tops.
Recently I was showing some of my latest watercolors to Mom and Dad. They live with us so social distancing is non-existent in our household. As an aside, I am so thankful for that as many of their friends are further isolated due to not having visitors in their retirement homes. The paintings I showed them are watercolors of collages I have pieced together of faces for a series entitled “See of Humanity”. I knew Dad would appreciate the use of the medium, and his response to the abstracted subject matter was expected. “Nice work, but why?” Seeing the compilation of faces of different skin tones and eye color baffled him. He was seeing realism, but not in a predictable format. This led to a beautiful discussion between generations. We are all precious and equal. The paintings are representations of a variety of people in one composition. I showed him my reference collages and we talked about how some composite people were compelling, weird and downright funny. Mom and Dad looked through the collages looking for family members’ features they would recognize. I handed Dad a photo of his grandson’s mouth and snapped a pic. It’s a keeper.
Covid19 has definitely slowed the pace of the Crawford household. However, the permission to paint has been a beautiful thing. But even more beautiful is the slowed down time spent sitting with my folks hearing their stories, talking art and making it on the fly. The photo of my Dad and my son will be a precious reminder of making the most of these unusual times.
Eva Crawford, Visual Artist