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My art gallery…

August 2, 2012

This blog will often mention something about art and arty stuff because this Grandma loves art! Sadly, I cannot paint or draw much more than a stick figure. My father is good at those…..or used to be! In fact when I was in high school and college he would send me (and often, to my chagrin, my friends as well) letters filled with stick figure drawings. Sometimes it was just a dog and a house and he would label each picture, i.e., “Dude”…..that was my dog…..”house”…..that was our house. And then he would sign it, “I miss you. I love you. Daddy.” Sometimes the drawings were much more elaborate with my dog chasing a stick or my mother weeding the flower beds or my dad driving the car. He really should have been a cartoonist although since his point of view pretty much lacked political or philosophical sophistication, I am not sure he would have sold many copies! There were times when those artistic efforts of my dad embarrassed me to death. After all a teen age girl doesn’t really want to be seen as thinking her father is too cool. Other times it was all I could do to not just fall on the floor in fits of giggles at his silly renditions of life at home or what he thought life was for me in the dorm. My friends always were very excited to get his notes and drawings and thought he was just the cat’s meow. I do remember one particular letter that he sent me shortly after I had started nursing school. He drew a patient in the bed, with me at the bedside cranking the bed up, but of course I didn’t do it right and the foot of the bed was raised as high as it would go, as was the head of the bed, leaving the poor patient squished into a V with a thermometer hanging out of his mouth. It may have been my father’s finest artistic moment! I wish I had kept that masterpiece in all its black and white pencil glory and framed it. It would be such a crazy piece of folk art to pass on to my grandchildren! And a hundred years from now it might fetch thousands on the Antique Road Show. One just never knows!

So although my mother was truly an accomplished artist, I would have to say in thinking about it, that my dad taught me how to appreciate art on a budget. If I were truly obscenely wealthy, I would, after buying my kids homes and setting up trust funds for the grandchildren, and contributing a few million to my favorite charities (Salvation Army, Make a Wish Foundation, and Doctors Without Borders), I would build my own dream house…..on the beach of course….and make it a living art gallery. Since I have yet to win the lottery and have no rich uncles standing in line to will me their fortunes, I have come to terms with my cozy but little house, my very tight little budget, and my faster and faster passing birthdays telling me that my time is now or never!

My friends often compliment me on the decor in my house and the art on my walls, and I appreciate and like those sorts of compliments. Who doesn’t? We all have pride in our homes in one way or another and I do like the artsy, the unusual, the beautiful and the one of a kind. No doubt about it. I have learned over the years that you really can “artsy” up a place on very little money. All it takes is knowing what you like, and then going on the hunt! The hunt is often the most fun part of the process! It involves long afternoons poking through dusty thrift stores, out of the way country shops, and antique shops big and small. It also involves using the not so obvious and repurposing it in arty ways. I have many examples around my home, and I bet many of you do too. It’s just something many of us have learned to do and love to do and have made the search part of the art itself!

Three of my favorite pieces of art that hang in my home are exactly that……finds from some rainy afternoon foray into a dusty, old, out of the way place. Let me show you.



This pretty little waif was one of my better finds of all time. I was browsing through an ancient antique shop in San Bernardino, CA. One of those places you are almost afriaid to go in for fear the rafters might fall on your head or the floor open up under your feet. It was a creaky old shop to be sure with cobwebs galore, very poor lighting, and no air conditioning. At the time I was hunting through old books looking for one of those rare first editions or maybe just some exotic old, but beautifully illustrated guide to the birds, or the bees, or some other exotic critter species. I just happened to pick up an old Britannica encyclopedia and was thumbing through it when this beautiful little girl fell out. She was just a thin piece of paper and very fragile but her colors were well preserved and rich, and I immediately thought “Christmas”! I stuck her back in the book, paid my $1 for it, and left. She actually is a  fairly well known painting by some fairly well known artist but I have forgotten those details. As you can see I did have her quite lavishly framed, but you wouldn’t have to do that. Any good arts and crafts store or artist supply place will carry a great selection of frames and mats and you could frame a piece that size yourself, very easily. Soooooooooo…….I call her my “Christmas Princess” and every year the day after Thanksgiving she comes out to grace my walls for another holiday season. My $1 art piece looks pretty great…..don’t you think?

Here is my other “great art find”… 



This little beauty was lying on a table wrapped in a cellophane envelope at an antique store in Portland, Oregon called “Monticello’s”….a place my sister gets to haunt frequently and I join her every chance I get when visting her. I believe that I paid $8 for this sweet baby. I just love her angelic face, her basket of antique toys, her little dog down in the grass to the left of her, and the overall innocence of the era. It is a very well done black and white drawing and again a great find that now hangs on my bedroom wall next to my big antique dresser. Yes, I had her customed framed, but I could just as easily framed her in a simple black mat and frame from any of the arts and crafts stores and she would look just as beautiful.

My third favorite piece hangs right here in my office and makes me laugh out loud every day. Take a look….


OK…. so this is not fine art, but it surely is art and it surely transcends the boring, ordinary, humdrum of everyday routines! This is nothing more than a greeting card that I found on my travels and stuck in a ready made frame, and oo la la…..there she is!

I really wanted to send this to somebody, but who? The logical person would have been my sister, but she ws with me when I bought it, so that would have spoiled all the fun. I do have half a dozen VERY close friends, but which one would I send it to? I never could decide. And of course I also have a couple of former bosses and colleagues that I could send it too and actually mean it, but that would just be cruel! So here she is… my office, making me giggle every day and making me think of which friend just might love this too!

So there you have it folks…..fine art, pretty things, great decor…..on a budget and found when you are least expecting it. Such fun!

Here’s to arty fun for all of you. Never leave a corner undisturbed, a book unopened, or a potential treasure behind! It could be the next jewel of the century, and it definitely will give your home a bit of class!

Chatty Grandma


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One Comment
  1. jeannie lindberg permalink

    I have done the same. Love it, love it …did I say I love it?

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