The Influencers: My Grandmother

Granny was always proud of the fact that she was descended from the “Lady Bowes line” of English royalty.   She was certainly special enough to attract the eye of my North Carolinian grandfather, who came up to Canada to help establish the fledgling tobacco industry in Southern Ontario.  They married, set up a few farms, had two kids and lived a good life together.  Granny learned to cook southern fried chicken, collard greens, biscuits ‘n gravy, grits and the best blueberry pie ever, doing her part as the wife of a “Southern Gentleman” farmer.   The farm was always a magical place for us grandkids to visit on the weekends, in part because of the wonderful food smells that wafted from her modern kitchen.

Granny never said a whole lot, but did love her Bible.  I always thought she resembled Queen Elizabeth, with her curly hairdo and pastel dresses.  Like my grandfather, she was very even tempered and the only time I recall her getting distressed was when I accidentally hit the wren-house pole with the riding lawnmower, knocking it over hard to the ground to the demise of its occupants.  Otherwise, she was the perfect, tolerant grandmotherly grandmother. 

In addition to her impressive culinary skills, Granny was also a skilled oil painter.  Her paintings won prizes at the local fairs and she even did a mural for her church.  In her house on the farm there was a long, wide hallway that served as her gallery, and every square inch, floor to ceiling, was filled with her paintings, which my grandfather made frames for.  Upon arriving it was the first place us kids would go to see if we could spot a new one.  She painted lots of different subjects, but the most expressive were flowers and landscapes, using both brush and palate knife.  She liked to use bright colours for Autumn scenes, but showed a restrained palate on winter scenes and sunsets as required.  Our family house was full of her paintings as well, so I saw them every day growing up, developing an acceptance and appreciation for art at a very early age. 

When I was around 7 years old, I asked Granny to teach me to paint a picture.  I drew out an abstract pattern on a canvas board and she helped me fill it in with bright colours, showing me how to lay down the paint properly and making sure I finished with something that was presentable in the end.  By the time I reached high school, art was my favourite subject and I eagerly sought to learn as much as I could about it.  At the time I never considered making a career out of it,  but I eventually completed a four year Honours  degree in Fine Art, figuring that if I studied what I love, I would find a way of making a living at it.  So now, every wall in my house is full of my own paintings, although I did inherit many of Granny’s after she passed away,  all of which hang in the most prominent locations.


20180619 204129