Monday, October 19, 2009

Breck Girls

This morning at the easel I was thinking about my grandmother, whose birthday was last week. (She would have been 104.) I have a few tools from her paintbox: a ground-down scalpel that I use constantly--for scraping paint off the canvas, digging out hard paint from a tube, cleaning my nails--a sweet little yellow pocket knife, a couple of magnifying lenses. When I was ten I spent a summer with her in Louisville, a thousand miles from home. One of the things we did together was copy the pictures from the Breck ads in pastel. The exercise probably left me with a peculiar idea of feminine beauty and lasting insecurity about my hair, but I did learn a lot about handling pastel and the proportions of the head, and most important, how to be serious about making a piece of art. Thanks Gram.

(The image is from 1963 and I'm certain it's one we copied. I found it in the Smithsonian archives, here.)

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