Paintings by my Grandad, James William Stone, as a young man.
We’ve only just come across these pictures of my Grandad’s, in an old folder of his. I just love them. Grandad was never a full time artist, but drawing, painting and making things were always a passion for him. He taught woodwork at a school for a time, and passed on this joy to many others I would imagine. I have a table in my house that his woodwork students made for him when he was leaving the school. It’s a lovely wooden coffee table,and they have carved their names all around the underside. I often wonder what happened to these young boys.
He made these pictures as a young man, from ink. They are very different to his later style, which became more about figures, family scenes and painted landscapes. I think these pictures have the energy and boldness of a young man’s heart, full of passion and experimentation. I can feel that anticipation of things to come, stepping into the adult world, most probably a rather uncertain one at that time. I love that there is a tiny pin mark in the top, which makes me think that he may have pinned it on his wall at some stage.
My memories of Grandad are a little hazy, as he sadly died when I was 12. But all through my life, Grandads work has been there, in paintings on our walls, in the toys he made for us as children, and in the little handmade gifts he would give at birthdays and Christmases. He had an art of quietly seeing people, and would often sketch us and make little watercolour scenes of us all running about, playing, and climbing trees. He and Gran had a deep love of nature, and would often go on walking holidays, where he would make sketches, and then turn them into paintings, lovely visual histories of their travels and adventures together.
One picture that I particularly love is one of trees that my Gran always spoke of, and which still hangs on her wall. They had been walking along a path through a forest, and Gran remembers the sun shining fiercely through the leaves. She loved it, and said with happiness, “Oh, it is a green world!”.When they got home, Grandad said, “I’m going to paint your green world”. And he did. I always remember my Gran telling me this story as she sat in a chair underneath the painting, full of light. Her eyes were so happy with the memory. How lovely to be able to leave behind such things, that continue to give happiness years after the event.
Grandad had a workshop in his garage when I was a child, which I loved to visit. Even now I can vividly recall the aromas of wood, pipe smoke, dust and paint. And the smell of mystery and the unknown. It seemed like an inventors cave, and you never knew what was going to come out of there.
Grandad was very humble about his painting, and I never remember him having an ego about it – he just did it because he loved it. It is sad to me that he died just after his retirement, as he was about to consider starting to put out some of his work for exhibition. So this is my little mini exhibition for him.
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