My grandparents were married in 1931, the beginning of a period of time known as the Dirty 30’s. Strangely they never talked about it. Other folks their age would make remarks on their buying, spending and saving habits, then end the phrase with “because we came through the 30’s”. The years spent in the midst of the “Dirty 30’s” were obviously so horrific, that the phrase would suffice as clear explanation to their behavior. Now, I am similarly struck by its omission. Why hadn’t the tough times of the 30’s made an indelible impact on those grandparents of mine? Were they just that tough? No, it was the grand gift of a 3 dimensional sight, the ability to see past the present truth into the future, and then proceed with confidence.
The evidence is in the art work. Although the work is often impressionistic, the subject matter is sharp and clear, if you consider that the main emphasis is beauty. My grandfather rarely painted the “Old West” within the context of struggle, fight or conflicts. His very first small painting was of an Indian, spear in hand, as he closed in on a buffalo. This he presented to his bride to be, Grace Cherrit Barlow. Then he went on to better subjects, leaving violence and sadness behind. Home and hearth, the rolling river and pastoral beauty became his subjects. His eye craved beauty and he found that in the rugged terrain of North Dakota.
Within the home his eye rested on a beautiful, periwinkle-blue teapot* which he made the focal point of this still life painting. I like to imagine my grandfather comforted by the beauty of this teapot. Its elegant curves and bright cheery blue obviously made his day. Since I love dishes, I am personally delighted that he captured the teapot in this rustic setting, possibly the only source of beauty in an old log cabin. The painting is a clue as to what kind of man my grandfather was. And it is especially poignant to me when you take into account that at the end of his career as artist and visionary he was a glaucoma patient. My grandmother administered the drops that kept him from going completely blind. When you study the final paintings he managed to finish, you will find that the canvas had shrunk. No longer did he produce artwork on a grand scale, yet the details and colors became even more remarkable. Apparently the ability to see with one’s eyes is not a perquisite for artistic success. Grandfather had a deep sense for beauty and a guide from within.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil 4:8
Photo ABOVE...Still Life: Apples, Bottle & Teapot is at home in Underwood Indiana, with Yvonne Lorentzen McGuire and hangs in the Ministry Center of New Life International.
Thomas Lipton was a Scottish grocer in the late 1800’s that popularized tea. A great move on his part, he used this slogan: "Direct from the tea gardens to the teapot." Lipton teas were an immediate success in the United States. Thomas Lipton was knighted by Queen Victoria, who made him Sir Thomas Lipton in 1898 at the age of forty-eight, (as noted by Wikipedia.) Still in the spotlight today, the little blue teapot can be found on various websites like eBay. It appears that a complete set, including creamer and sugar bowl with lid goes for about 50 dollars. Its place, secured in history, with the words LIPTONS TEA firmly embedded on the bottom of each set.
All photos taken by Vanessa Lorentzen on location. Yvonne holds the periwinkle teapot.