Elaine, 1942

This pencil drawing was done freehand from an old 3” x 2” photo. It’s my eldest sister at the water pump on our old family farm in Ohio. I love her little baby doll dress. It must have influenced her style, because as an adult, she always wore baby doll pajamas. The background foliage always has fascinated me. I remember the very afternoon that I rendered this background.

At the Pump

A friend had stopped for coffee. We both had daughters in morning kindergarten. We usually got together after school so the girls could play together before the older children arrived home. Tanya sat across the table as I laid out the first layer of foliage with a light pencil. Darker pencils pulled out the filtered light peppering through the subsequent layers. There’s a rhythm to moving the pencil at a certain angle to get the lacework of the leaves. It probably took me a couple of hours to fill in all the layers. I worked a little longer on the pump handle. Actually I overworked it. The angle is off. But that’s how works of art evolve. The entire work is never done to perfection. That’s what keeps the room for improvement open 24 hours a day for eternity. That’s why art will forever be an evolving process. Musicians will always be hooking the same notes together in brand new arrangements. Songs will forever be written with words strung in brand new lyrics. Paintings will forever be made with brand new colors blended on the canvas. Dances will forever be performed with brand new rhythms. Audiences will forever be delighted with brand new images.

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About Kathleen Franks

Kathleen Franks is a writer, artist, storyteller, and community volunteer based in Berkeley, CA
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