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Lynne Hurd Bryant Art Blog

Tribute to my first art teacher

by lynnehurdbryant , April 21, 2010—10:11 PM

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Today, April 21, 2010, is the 102nd anniversary of the birth of Ada Hurd Bryant, my grandmother, the person responsible for making me an artist.

I used the word "make" for a reason. I don't believe I am a born artist, I believe I was made. I come from an artistic family, both of my grandmothers, a couple of uncles, my brother and several of my cousins are all artistically inclined. My grandmother would often remark that while I had the desire, I was the least "talented" of the bunch...but I would keep trying. I am the only one to have gone to art school and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I would keep doing it!

This grandmother had a lot of set ideas about painting. She would let us have the old 8-pan Prang watercolor sets, but she would grab the new set, pop out the black and toss it in the trash. "Nobody," she would remark,"EVER needs black paint!" I still don't own black paint.

When I was 13, she handed me a 9 × 12 canvas and her oil paints to paint a flower. When I was finished, she framed it and handed to her Aunt Myra who hung it proudly on her wall. When Aunt Myra died, I was willed the first flower which lead to a nearly 40-year habit.

When I decided to go to art school, my grandmother was the only person to encourage me, but she cautioned me against considering art as a career because she didn't think I was good enough, nor would I ever be so. Once she started to see the work I produced, she was more encouraging and less cautioning. She would tell me that my training showed in everything I did and others in the family, who didn't have training, would never be able to match what I was doing. I know she did a great deal of what called "braggin' on" me.

I didn't paint for a number of years and what little I did was done at grandmother's house on vacations to Overland Park, KS. She took and kept everything I did on those relaxed breaks in her home.

She has been gone for 8 years this summer. I think she would be pleased I decided to pick up my brush again. She would have stepped onto the bandwagon when I got into the gallery last Christmas and she would have told everyone what a wonderful artist her granddaughter had turned into. She would have sniffed and said that all those years of not painting were actually probably good for me because there is a quality there now that was not before. She would have been right.

I celebrate the birthday of the very complicated woman I called grandma. I celebrate what she taught me about art, for allowing me to use her brushes and her paints, because I was the only one she ever shared these with. I celebrate the time she took to instill excitement about the world around us all. I celebrate her insisting that I walk her extensive flower gardens every morning while she named every flower. I celebrate the hours spent on car trips where the conversation was always about the way shadows fall, the softness of the colors in the distance, the shades of green in just a single tree... I celebrate all the gifts she gave me, that part of her that lives on in me everyday of my life. I appreciate her living legacy.




  Debra Babcock

06/04/2010 * 20:42:19

What a beautiful story. I long for the day to do the very same thing with a grand child. My children don't live close so it's good to know that distance didn't keep you from being close. Thanks for sharing your lovely story and your even more lovely art with us.

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