One of the nicest things about putting together Today's Inspiration is being contacted by people who have a personal connection to an artist I've featured. Often they will share with me some fond memories of that loved one whom we know only through the work we admire. This is always especially exciting for me! Its wonderful to learn a little about the person behind the art from someone who knew them as a teacher, friend, or family member. This week I'd like to share some of those correspondences with you.
A little while ago I receive an email from Shelley Nugent. In July of 2007 I wrote about her grandpa, Pete Hawley. Shelley offered to fill in some background details about his career. We began corresponding and I asked Shelley to tell me what she remembered about her grandpa. Here's what she wrote...
"My grandparents lived in Sedona and we lived in Phoenix (120 miles apart) so we saw my grandparents a lot. Actually, I was born in Cottonwood (15 minutes from Sedona, there wasn't a hospital there yet). My parents lived up there when my dad came back from Vietnam. I was born , the first grandchild on July 13th on my grandpa's birthday 5 weeks early. He used to like to say he got a pear tree and a granddaughter that year for his birthday. I'll be 41 this July."
"We saw them a lot. My dad was very close to his parents. He never missed a Mother's or Father's Day with them. He has an older sister Susan who still lives in my grandparent's house and a younger sister Jane. She died in 1993. She was my favorite Aunt. My grandpa had a studio off the kitchen with it's own bathroom. It had windows all the way around it. When you'd open the door, you'd have to step down 2 steps. It always smelled like old man Old Spice and paint."
"He would take pictures of neighbor kids or us kids to use for his drawings. He used his kids a lot when they were little, they were beautiful kids. He had this black & white Polaroid camera that spit the pictures out and they smelled really bad until they dried. I don't know exactly when he retired, my dad might know. I remember him working until I was in my teens I think."
"When I was little I would bring him his cookies and Instant breakfast at lunchtime and stir his water bowl (where he'd rinse his brush) and make all his cigarette ashes come back to the top. (He smoked for a little while) Unless he needed my help with something, we didn't bother him. If I was quiet I could color on the floor. He worked for American Greetings then."
"He would on his own make Xmas cards for his friends depicting the menagerie of dogs & cats he and my grandma had. He had really nice handwriting. I know that he wrote left handed, but I actually think he could paint with both."
Above, a photo from 1979. Shelley writes, "12/21/1979 My Aunt Jane (now deceased), my younger sister, my grandpa and me."
* Shelley is helping me develop a week-long series about her grandpa, Pete Hawley, which I hope to bring to you some time soon.
* My Pete Hawley Flickr set.