Picture One: The Translucent Home of Memory
Early in our marriage my husband and I purchased an original watercolor by artist, Peggy Brown. It’s an imaginative rendition of a home in soft blues and greys with tall barren trees surrounding it. The house has a turret similar to the old Victorian-style home my husband was raised in. And amazingly, the artist was from Huntsville, Indiana, the home of my maternal grandfather. When you look at it you can visualize the movement of hearts within. It’s filled with light and thus with dreaming. All these things made it logical that the painting spoke to us and that’s why we wanted to take it home. For 18 years it held a place of honor in our living room. In this house it is now in our bedroom, still a treasure, still able to evoke dreamy thoughts though its colors have faded.
Picture Two: Nana’s Gift
This picture has an amazing story connected with it and it’s my maternal grandmother’s story. When Nana was married in 1909, a friend of hers named Lena, presented her with a watercolor of a woman wearing a bright gold sash and holding a basket of grapes. The subject matter was rather odd for the 1900s in Chicago, but my grandmother proudly hung it in her home. Years later, Lena came to tea. She gazed at the picture on the wall, telling Nana that the real reason for her visit was that she had come for the picture. She said it was the best painting she had ever done and she wanted it back. Nana said no—it was a gift and it would stay a gift. Thus it hung in Nana’s home until she died, moved with my aunts to a new Chicago address and when they died it came to me. A real treasure. It hangs beside two water colors that Nana painted when she was in her late teens.
Picture Three: Two Girls and a Boy
My friend Gay Lynn sent me a card with a rendering of a painting by artist Steve Hanks. I was entranced immediately because it shows a boy and two girls sitting on a pier over the water. The boy is blonde like my son, the girls appearing to be the ages of my two daughters. Again, the art draws you in and you can almost hear the water rippling when the children move their sticks. A bird is singing somewhere and the sun feels so good on their cotton tee shirts. I framed the small card-size and later found a bigger version that I also framed. I dreamed of buying the original art, but never have—though Steve Hanks remains a favorite.
Picture Four: The Sea Hath Its Pearls
Art can call out to you from very unusual places and I found this at a store that has since gone out of business. It’s a reproduction of a Pre-Raphaelite painting, women often being the subject matter. I was in a decade of my life when I wasn’t totally sure of my path. Our daughters were gone to university, our son was busy with school and band. Maybe I felt like the woman on the beach, searching the water and the sand for a shell, a stone, some token that might whisper the future.
Picture Five: Back to My Childhood Home
This final picture I purchased in Des Moines, Iowa. Again it’s a reproduction and I know nothing about the artist or its title. I was wandering a department store and found myself looking at art. When this picture of a home in autumn, the feathery trees, a reflecting pond and geese came into view, I had a physical feeling, a rush of remembrance. Of course I stopped. I had never seen this painting before, so what was I feeling. It didn’t take long to figure it out. Above the fireplace in our home in Chicago hung a picture of a house, a picture my brothers and I loved. (It’s the one thing my brother Bill wanted and so it’s hanging in his home.) I probably looked at that picture every day of my young life. Its colors and composition implanted on my brain feelings of warmth and security, peace and comfort. And though the composition of this department store painting was different, it echoed those feelings. It spoke to me. I purchased it happily.
Of course most of us have on our walls and tables iconic framed photos of our family members. They truly are the pictures that reveal the dreams of the heart. When I see photos of my children young, not so young and grown into wonderful adulthood I feel joy and gratitude. When I look at my grandchildren, I’m just about as happy as I can be. Photos of my parents and my husband’s parents are absolute treasures, as our photos of our younger selves. Do you have a favorite picture hanging in your home? No matter where it came from or who the artist is the value is in your perception–and the story of how it came to be yours, the story of some little dream that it holds–that makes it a perfect jewel, a memorable treasure.
Thanks to John Havey and Google Images
P.S. My brother sent me a photo of THE ENGLISH COTTAGE that hung over our fireplace in my childhood home. Here it is.