Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Heritage
My father, Fulton L. Peay, did this oil painting he called "China Moon" in 1988.  He had been drawing and painting for most of his life, and this is the kind of thing I grew up with.  The immediate inspiration, strangely enough, was a graphic novel he'd found in a second hand bookstore.  He was forever looking for 'material', and he told me the artists in graphic novels and heavy metal magazines were some of the best he'd seen.  This particular China-based novel let to a series of Chinese Junk paintings.

The moon and the water were his natural heritage.  He grew up near Nashville's Cumberland River, where his father superintended a water purification plant.  On summer nights, he would wander out of his room behind the garage and go to the river.  There he would float in the shallows while his terrier Trixie snuffled about on the shore.  At that time, the area was mostly summer camps, and he watched the wealthy at their camp outs.  I have many paintings he made of nights on the river and the sights he saw.  Above all, he watched the colors of the sky and the water.

He considered himself an 'old high school boy', since college wasn't in the cards except for rich folk in the 1930s.  Thus he was always shy about showing his pictures except to friends or in the local library.  He had taught himself, using such art books as he could afford and, years later, a television art program.  But he certainly gave me the art bug.

I knew I could never draw like he did and strove to find my own style.  My little dressed-up cat angels and operatic cats got me started.  Daddy encouraged me to find my own way, offering only some suggestions and a few drafting instruments.  (You need straight lines and proper curves, no matter how individual your style.)  He also started me painting by giving me an acrylic starter set he'd bought to try out.  

Acrylics couldn't do for him what oils and even pastels could.  They dry too quickly and they tend to shrink, especially on canvas.  I myself was a bit frustrated until the iridescent and 'interference" colors were developed.  Now there is even an iridescent medium.  Now I can at least do skies and waters that look like they have light behind them.

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