Grandmother Emma, my Italian grandmother from Calabria, started painting late in life. Well, I don’t know that for certain. She may have painted as a child, or may have painted as an adult while raising seven children. I just don’t know. But, I knew her to be a painter in her eighties. She had an easel topped with canvas with lots of tubes of acrylic paint. She would mix the primary colors on an egg-shaped artist’s palette with a hole carved out for the left hand. The paint blobs would be mashed into all sorts of blends and shades. I sat vigil in observance while she swiped the brush across her canvas painting kaleidoscope shapes into pictures.
Grandmother most often painted staged fruit precariously placed in bowls. The display would be left atop her kitchen table draped with thick clothe for weeks while she painted. We were forced to eat around her display until her painting was complete. I thought this very Italian.
My aunts and uncles did not appreciate her art. But I loved it. As a child, I wanted to be an artist. Grandmother Emma’s deliberate lack of self-consciousness seemed the perfect persona of an artist. Critics be damned.
When Grandmother passed away, my mother inherited several of her original paintings. The one I loved the most was her potted geraniums.