Thursday, September 24, 2015

Great Grandad's palette

A few weeks ago while outdoor painting I gave my great grandfather's palette a whirl.  A compact little mahogany one, it's perfect for packing light.  It's been hanging on the door of my studio ever since I inherited it from my mum over 25 years ago.  I don't know if mum actually ever used it.  It's been my practice in the past to use disposable tear-off paper palettes for easy clean-up, but a painter friend gave me a tip about using steel wool with a little solvent to remove dried oil paint, and it works like a charm.

Sunny Break -oil on panel 6 x 8"
I don't mean to sound all "whoooowheee..." or anything but there was an energy in that palette!  YES.  A sort of mental connection.  The whole time I was painting I thought about my great grandad.  What inspired him? How often had he actually got to paint for pure pleasure?  Let's face it, life wasn't a breeze in rural Lincolnshire back in 1880.  A day's living would have been a lot of hard physical work.  But for some of great Grandad's life, he did work as a restorer of art...paintings of antiquity...BUT I'm guessing that's not all he did to make a living. I wish my grandmother were still alive so that I could ask her more about her dad.

I never knew him, but somehow I felt his spirit around me while I painted that day.  He would have been pleasantly enjoying the surroundings, I'm sure he never made it to Canada in his lifetime.  I think I felt what he might have felt as I worked.  That pure pleasure of manifesting my landscape observation with a few gobs of colored pigment.  No technology anywhere, just the same little palette 125 years later.


  1. Love the painting and the post. Great Granddad would be proud.

    XOXOXOXOXO Barbara

  2. hi Barbara! So nice to have your sweet comment. have a great weekend. xo

  3. I so enjoyed this post Sally! What a special experience for you to be able to use your great grandad's palette. How lovely that you felt a tangible connection to him as you painted. The act of painting and being in the moment already feels rather magical so it must have been extra profound on this occasion. I'm sure he would have really loved soaking up the pleasant and unfamiliar surroundings as you painted!! How wonderful to have that painting background in your family.
    I love the scene you painted - you've certainly captured the sunshine.
    I also love what you did with the shop front a post or two back. I'd call it artistic license rather than fibbing - actually I'd simply call it pretty bleedin' good! (hope that's not too crass for your blog!) :)

    1. hi Wendy, I'm thrilled that sharing this with you was enjoyable to read about. It's funny, so often I grapple for blog post ideas, but taking this little video of the palette that day out painting, prompted me to think it might be fun to share it on my blog. There wasn't much sunshine the day I painted, but there were sunny little breaks throughout the day, so that' s what i tried to capture. I'm always way more thrilled to paint bright sunshiny light than I am to paint overcast whether. Thanks also for your kind comments on the little shop front! Happy painting, and I'm going to treat myself and order your little book soon!


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