Week 20: Painting with my Granny

My Granny (or Gran) is also an artist – she’s quite talented (though if you talk to her she’d firmly shake her head and talk down what she does). She (like so many artists – including myself) is too hard on herself and doesn’t see what the rest of us see – which is a hell of a lot of talent.

Last summer when I was fortunate enough to spend some time down in south Louisiana with her and my Papa, we had the chance to paint together. This was a real treat for both of us. I also painted her a rather dapper rooster – but that’s another story.

When she showed me a lot of her “reject” paintings we discussed how they could be salvaged. Of course, they didn’t really need salvaging. Many were quite lovely and well resolved already. For example, the painting below was one that she really didn’t like that I thought was beautiful – I haven’t worked back into it at all (and have no plans to) because I love it just the way it is.

gran3 copy
Dolores Jordan, watercolor on Reves watercolor paper

I took a few paintings of flowers (mostly poppies) with me when I left but I haven’t touched them until now. For Mother’s Day I thought it would be a good idea to take one of these pieces and work back into it to create a card for my mom – a little bit of my granny and me in one painting.

I worked on the following two pieces to start with. I rather liked the color and looseness of the paintings my Gran had created but determining how to work back into them with my own more controlled (tighter) style was difficult at first. I decided to use pen and ink to start with – changing the flowers into more graphic stylization.

I thought that I rather botched this one up at first. I liked the original better. This was the first attempt, however and so I didn’t give up. When I began the second painting I was much happier with the outcome. I will say, when I cropped this first one down and turned it into an actual card I liked it much better.


The second painting had an easier composition to work back into. I added some leaves to the bottom with some watercolor and gouache and this helped balance out the flowers at the top. When I cropped this one down (which I didn’t want to do at first) I also liked it much better. Perhaps they just feel more polished with a bit of a white border.


This is the final card that will be sent to my mom – I’m not sure who will get the second one just yet. These are two of my favorite pictures of my sweet moma. I love the small one of her and me in Wesley, Arkansas when I was about 3-4 years old. I’m pushing her on the tire swing in our front yard.

The other photo is from my most recent trip back home to see my mom. We’ve seen each other since then, thankfully, but at the time I hadn’t seen her in 3.5 years and it was a great reunion. The big white cat is my “little brother” Fatz.

I’m excited to be moving closer to my mom in just a few months. I’ll still be about 8 hours away but it’s a manageable day-drive and that’s what matters (my mom doesn’t fly).

My Gran really liked the cards when I sent her pictures of them – she didn’t remember painting the original versions at first and thought I’d done them… she loved them when she thought they were entirely mine which only proves that she is harder on herself than she should be. We do pretty good work, I think. 🙂

I have one more piece that I will be working back into and maybe we’ll do some more together in the future. Maybe I should send her some of my unfinished ones in her next care package. 🙂


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