Gallery of Mom’s Art: Paintings

I don’t know when my mother’s interest in art began, though I suspect it was pretty early in her life. I just remember it filling her life from the time I can first remember. Twenty years after her death, we cleaned out the house and moved my father in with my brother. In that process we distributed much of her art work. This post will focus on paintings, with others to follow for other mediums.

This is by no means a complete gallery of Mom’s art. During her life she gave many paintings away. I hope they are still being enjoyed as much as we enjoy these.

Childhood Paintings

In the drawer of the cedar chest we found some small canvases with what appear to be very early, even childhood paintings.

College Art Student

My mother, Joan Wheelwright, attended Weber College in Ogden, Utah as an Art Major. At that time Weber was a Two Year Junior College. Her education refined her natural talent. She created a number of works at Weber College and had some exhibited.

This painting hung in my Grandparents’ house from my earliest memories until after Grandpa’s death. It is signed Joan Wheelwright. It was probably painted when she was in College.

This painting is also signed Joan Wheelwright, so is an early work. It had been given to a neighbor when Mom was still living at home. This neighbor’s grandson found it when he moved into the house and felt it should be returned to family. He gave it to my cousin who had bought our Grandparents’ home after Grandpa died. She then gave it to me. It It was not in very good shape – some warping and water damage. I had it reframed and now it hangs in my home.

Though no signature is visible, this also appears to be an early painting.
This is one of several unframed water colors we found in the drawer of the cedar chest. This one is signed Joan Wheelwright, so likely done in College.
This one also appears to be signed John Wheelwright

Early Paintings

These other unsigned and unframed water colors appear to be early paintings. They were found in the cedar chest and other places around the house.

Portraits were something that Mom didn’t really paint, so finding this was kind of a surprise. Possibly it was done as an assignment in College?
This one has a smudge in the corner which may be a signature, though it doesn’t resemble hers. It might be someone else’s work, but I have no idea why she would have kept it if it wasn’t hers.

Other Early Paintings

Mom and Dad married in 1951, just before Mom turned 20 years old. These paintings are signed Joan W. Eggleston, so done after their marriage, but probably when she was still young.

I remember this painting hanging in the house forever. My siblings and I still wonder what the dark thing on the right is supposed to be.

Landscapes in Oil and Acrylic

Through the years, Mom painted many landscapes. I remember camping trips where we kids would be running around exploring while Mom sat and painted the scenery. At some point she started using a pallet knife to get more texture. Earlier landscapes were desert scenes or ones with fall colors.

This one was given to my sister. It has been newly reframed after the frame fell apart.

This is a really small painting in a frame that Mom covered with gold leaf.
This one is also small.

These were probably the last acrylic paintings Mom did. In her later years she went back to water colors. The three small paintings hung over Mom and Dad’s King size bed.

Seascapes

Mom gave this painting to her brother Bob for his birthday in 1967.
This large seascape was painted to hang over the fireplace.

Flower Paintings

Mom painted many flowers – some oil or acrylic, and in her later years all water colors, including the one at the beginning of this post.

This one hung in my room when I lived at home.
This is an unframed one that we found in the house.
This was the first painting that I specifically asked for. The photograph doesn’t do it justice. It is in an amazing antique frame that appears to need some repair.
This is the one that there was almost a fight over. The colors look better in person.

Water Color Landscapes

Besides flowers, Mom did several water color landscapes. After she redecorated with blue, she painted and matted most of these to match the color scheme.

A Few Small Still Life Paintings

This small simple still life is unframed

To Be Continued

We found this unfinished painting and wondered what to do with it. Fortunately, there are several artists among Mom’s posterity. One grandson stepped up and offered to take and finish it. We will have to see how it turns out.

Note: Most of these photographs were taken to send to family members so they could choose which painting they wanted. Unfortunately, I didn’t think ahead to doing something like this, so the quality of the photos is not great.

Shift to Blue – The Story of Mom’s Art Journey

My Mom was an artist. She had a gift, one which some of her posterity have inherited to some degree or another – I much less than others. Part of her gift was an eye for color. Where I might see merely brown, she could distinguish the subtle variations and hues, and blend to make new shades. Her art went through many phases and multiple mediums through the years. She liked to take art classes through community education and even taught some herself. I remember her painting, making pottery and jewelry, drying and arranging flowers, and making porcelain dolls with intricate clothing. She was also an expert seamstress and quilter, her eye for matching and combining colors evident there as well.

My early childhood memories seem to be in black and white, perhaps because all the photos were. I do have early memories of turquoise, popular in appliances of the day which were in our kitchen, but also used in glazes and the real turquoise jewelry Mom created.

New House

When I was 12, we moved to a new house which gave Mom the opportunity to decorate from scratch. The “quality industrial grade” carpet picked out for the whole house, which remained in two upstairs bedrooms until the house was sold because it never wore out, was a blend of browns and orange. Those are the colors I remember for years filling our home and Mom’s art. Mom’s earliest paintings were with oils and then acrylic, some of those being fall or desert scenes typical of southern Utah. Her paintings, along with some from other artists, covered our walls like a gallery.

I remember this painting hanging in our house for years, then Mom donated it to be hung in the new Church. After many years it was found in a closet at the Church and returned to Dad. It has now made its way to my home.

The first painting to break the color mold, was a large seascape that was placed over the fireplace. Even it had a good deal of brown in the rocks on the shore, but the look was the first of the blue.

The Shift from Orange to Blue

Because it happened after I was married and immersed in my own life and family, I do not recall exactly when or how came the shift from orange to blue. With more money for remodeling and redecorating, Mom and Dad replaced the tan wood siding on the exterior with blue vinyl. With new off-white carpeting in the living room, Mom stenciled a blue design as a border on the walls. They put blue carpet in the master bedroom and Mom made curtains and a beautiful blue quilt to cover the bed. Blue wallpaper replaced the orange in the kitchen and bathrooms. When the younger children moved out, the largest bedroom downstairs became Mom’s Blue Room. It was intended to be a TV room, but after Mom passed away, Dad didn’t spend much time there. It was always Mom’s room, and always blue. A curio cabinet housed her dolls, those she had collected for years and the many porcelain dolls she had made. A collage of prints she acquired on trips covered the wall.

The shift to blue was accompanied by a change of medium as well. Mom turned to water colors, painting delicate flowers and winter scenes to replace the autumn ones. One of the now empty upstairs bedrooms became her studio. As her health worsened and became an excuse for not doing many things, she still found energy to paint.

Blue painting sitting on the old orange and brown carpet in the bedroom that became her studio.

Blue to the End

When we met with funeral directors after Mom’s death, they offered to get a nice casket spray of red roses. No! Though red roses are beautiful and this was a nice gesture, that was not right. We went to a florist and ordered one of delicate blue and white flowers. The shift to blue complete.