I will write more about this story later but I want to just get something posted on this page so that you can see what Iím talking about.
The punch line to the story which I will add here later is this. Mom told me, ďI discovered that if I pursued painting, I would end up painting better than he did. I saw how badly that possibility affected him so I swore I would not do that to him. And I gave up apinting for ever.Ē She never painted again. She took First Place with this picture in a competition where he, too, exhibited pictures - and expected to receive First Place.
This was her second serious attempt at painting, using charcoal and chalk on a pale blue paper. Pretty good, isnít it. I remember that she practised on the kitchen table so she did work to improve but it was remarkable how quickly she did improve. The first practise paintings were pretty crude, yet she moved quickly to the level shown above.
Hereís another painting that she did at some point in this era in Seward. Notice in particular how much her ability to draw the features has improved. These improvements were the result of her own observations and practise because because dad didnít really like to take the time to help someone else. I know that because Dick and I tried to get him to give us drawing lessons. I remember the first one, drawing a pond with some boulders in it, and a few trees. We didnít do too well, I remember that, and I think that was the only time he tried to teach us. Mom didnít press him so he must have been pretty het up about having to do it. Whether it was time, or frustration at our slowness, I donít know, but I know we didnít have any more lessons, and Iíd expect that he treated mom the same way. He never let things interfere in his own pursuits.
I have no doubt, based on these pictures, that her claim of being able to surpass dad would have been true. The specific problem that he had was drafting features. He struggled during his whole painting career with features. In contrast, you can see how relaxed and normal the features in momís painting were. He could make faces that were dramatic and interesting, shaman, or cornflower hair style, elaborate bottle carriers and so on. But a basic face troubled him to the end. Momís faces were more realistic than most of dadís paintings that he labored over so hard. That may be what would have been the difference, a freshness from superior drafting skill, and the soundness of judgment to stop working when the time to stop had come.
The results of her First Place demonstrate her absolute dedication to him, her determination to help him excel, and her willingness to sacrifice herself. She told me this story several time. She described how shocked and disappointed he was when he saw the blue ribbon on her painting. He was in a mild state of shock when it sunk in that his own wife and beat him. She thought he was embarassed at being bested by his spouse, actually at being bested at all because he had won first place previous years. She said that after she thought about his reaction, and thought about how he dealt with competition, and how he was actually insecure about things, she understood that if she continued to paint, he would stop painting. She knew that she could surpass him and in short order I am sure she would have. So she swore to herself that she would put her painting away and never paint again. She never did. These two paintings are the only two that she did.
That self-sacrificing was characteristic of her approach to taking care of dad.
Days later: I was just struck with a sad observation: all of his paintings are matted and framed. Herís is taped to a piece of cardboard.