@beachglass After you replied to my thread the other day. I started thinking about you and your art. This opened a memory floodgate of my late sister. She is the one responsible for my admiration of you artist types. So I sit down a wrote about some of my memories of her and her art. I hope you enjoy it.
My Sister Joan
When I was born my sister, Joan was twelve years old. She was a very petty girl with straight black hair. People would often mistakenly conclude that she was part Native American. Due to contracting polio at a very young age she walked with a slight limp. This was because one leg was shorter than the other. Joan claimed to be 5 foot one, and said she would had been 5 foot two, if not for the short leg.
Joan loved her little brother, and would keep me in tow with her every chance she had. Even after she was married with her own son. She was always coming to get me so I could spend the day or weekend with her. I guess it helped that I was a very quiet and fairly calm kid, and not as nerve wracking as most kids. I also loved spending time with her, since she made me feel special.
Joan was the artist in our family. Even though the only art classes she had were the ones in high school. These were before she ran away, to get married out of state, at 17.
While in high school a neighborhood lady taught Joan how to tint photographs. This quickly became a classic case of the student surpassing the teacher. Photograph tinting was were a photographer would take a pictures of someone. Then after choosing the best one. They would made a large black and white photo print and a smaller color print of it. Then these were sent to an artist such as Joan. The artist would only use the color print as a color guide, and would apply paint to the B&W print. By lightly applying colors and shadows to the print they would produce what looked like a hand painted portrait. But with amazing reproduction details that the photo gives of the subject.
In the early 60s Joan went to work for a photographer, and one of her duties was doing the photo tinting. She would bring her photo tinting home to do. How about that for before her time, in the 60s a work at home mom. I was about 10 are so back then, and I can still remember with vivid detail her doing these photos. I would stand next to her chair and watch her for hours. She would set up everything on the kitchen table. Of course there was a tabletop easel to hold the work piece with a good adjustable light above this. She only had about a dozen different color tubes of paint, and mainly only used half of these. Even at my young age I was surprised that she only had three small paint brushes, and these were seldom used but kept at the ready in a glass with a little water in it. What she mainly used was a couple dozen small round paint brush handles with the bristle ends removed. She used the pointed ends of these, and wrapped it with cotton. Kinda making her own Q tips type paint brushes, and this allowed her make them from very skinny ones to much fatter ones as needed. There was a handheld artist pallet for mixing paint colors. But she would test the color either on a white sheet of paper or the back of her hand. When I asked why she did that and what was the difference. She explained to me that the back of her hand was best for testing the colors that go on skin areas and the paper was best for the background areas.
This was an amazing process to watch. Joan would start with the eyes by makings the pupils a dark gray, and then add the color of their eyes often with multiple color tones. Next the whites of the eyes, and then the contrasting eyelid lines. Then she did the eyebrows and the eyelids with their shadows. After doing the nose, mouth, and hair she would finish up the face by adding the skin color to the forehead, chin, and cheeks with the shadows. Then she could quickly do the background colors this is were she would use the brushes. The end result of her efforts were most impressive and would surpass the the color print in it’s depth. A good artist such as my sister could help lighten up unwanted features like under eye bags or forehead lines.
When I was in the sixth grade, Joan tinted a large photo of me. By the time that I was in junior high school. This picture was hanging in a photographer’s display window at a local mall. When my classmates would ask if that was me in that picture?
Embarrassed I would reluctantly answer, “Yea yea it is me, my sister did that”.
In the 70s Joan and my other sister Diane, started a home based business. They used moulds to make plaster wall art. They would spray paint the moulded pieces with a base and then a light highlighting coat. Next they would hand paint on the details. Their Coat of Arms and the Bull with Matador was the best sellers. They had their wall art hanging in homes, restaurants, and businesses all over town.
Joan also taught herself how to paint portraits. She first did this in the early 70s, and her first was of her favorite dog. A little white French Poodle named, “Frenchie” that she got in California while her husband was stationed there. She made some very good portraits of family members over the following 10 years are so before becoming tired of it. This is a trait her and I do share.
Here is a picture that Joan tinted. This is of the lake that we live on, and it was taken by the power company that built the lake. This was taken in 1967 a year after the lake completed filling up. She borrowed the negative of this aerial photograph and made a print from this, and tinted the print. Our house was to the left just out of view. The blue car in the driveway on the point was a 1964 Ford Galaxy. The trailers and little house on the point are long gone now. But the owners of the large lake houses there now are crazy about this picture and would love to have it. Check out how sharp the tiny details are that she painted in.