This summer, I was commissioned by some family members to paint a portrait of my Great Aunt Lois, who is my mother’s aunt and my grandmother’s sister. It was her children that commissioned me to paint the portrait. The portrait was to be done from a black and white photograph of her at the age of 18.
My great aunt is now 93 years old and is still very active. She spends half the year on cruises, sightseeing the world. I was honored that her children asked me to paint a portrait of their mother and of one of my favorite aunts. Of course I wanted to change the photograph by adding color to it. I did want the painting the fade out into a gray, as if the painting were a memory coming to life. I also painted it on handmade paper to help give it a vintage look. I didn’t know the color of the dress and was pleased to discover that it was the color I painted it.
I was excited to discover that I would be able to present the painting to her at the family reunion where she proceeded to tell the story behind the photograph.
Lois explained that the photograph was taken just after she had graduated high school from a small town in Southeastern Idaho. This was when many of her friends had enlisted in the navy and had been shipped off to Europe or Japan to fight in the war (WWII). Lois wanted to cheer them up and to remind them of her so she got all dressed up and wore a special bracelet with an anchor on it (unfortunately I did not know this nor was I told about this) just for the photograph. Lois mentioned that she sent the photograph to these boyfriends hoping they would remember her and write her back. She did get one reply back from a farm boy she liked very much. The reply was that the photo reminded him of home and he could smell the country air and the manure when he saw it. Lois said that she never wrote that boy again.
Me presenting the painting to my Great Aunt Lois