On March 13, 1918, My Grandfather was born. He was born and raised in New Jersey. In the 40's he went off to fight in WWII. When he returned, he married my Grandmother, and had 5 children. They remained in New Jersey, where they raised their children, horses and dogs. In the 80's, they retired to a comfortable home on a little hill in rural Pennsylvania.
I was born soon after they bought their new home, and when I was old enough, I would spend 1-2 weeks with them during the summer. I have many fond memories of the time I spent there. I loved riding the horses from the barn to the field, where they would graze for most of the day. The tractor was always fun--Pop would give me rides, and eventually, when I was old enough, I got to drive it solo. Mostly, I just embraced all that the rural life had to offer--the fresh air, the scent of hay in the breeze, the fields to run though, the woods, with fallen trees for fort-building....and the list could go on forever.
I also remember following my grandfather around, like his little shadow, always curious about what he was getting into....Whether it was tending to the "farm" or creating something with his hands --he built wagons for the horses to pull, furniture for their home, wood plaques for decor...
Thinking back, I really understand why my Grandfather was drawn to the simple, old-school, traditional life...and I think it's genetic. I live in a city, but have been and always will be in love with rural areas. I dream of owning a farm and growing food, milking goats, sheering sheep for some wool....or maybe alpacas....and the dream list just goes on.
My Grandfather will be 95 on March 13th...He still resides in the house on the hill, and although his activity level has diminished with age, and he no longer owns horses, he still has a love of nature, learning, and creating. He carves and paints on wood and sometimes canvas. Most of his subjects are horses, people, and nature.
Last night, I set myself to the task of making a birthday card for this creative, traditional, person who has impacted my life to an extent that I have yet to fully understand. I knew he wouldn't get my post-modern, minimalist, hand cut cards....
I figured a drawing of some sort would make the most sense--drawing is perfectly traditional, so he gets it. A horse would have been too obvious, and he draws enough of those to fill a gallery. Then, I remembered birds--he loves birds.....and the birds love him. In the winter, the birds used to eat seed right out of his hand.
He still has feeders for them, talks about the different species, and smiles when he sees lots of bird activity. I decided on this for my subject, and picked a classic species: the American Goldfinch.
I wanted to make the card simple, with a vintage, Americana feel--like that of a photo album or scrapbook (my Grandfather also LOVES photos; he has a so many albums and piles of photos, and will share them with anyone who is willing to look).
I was so content when I had finished this little endeavor of mine. I had made something that he could connect with on a personal level--it was more than just a generic birthday card....it said something about HIM, and him alone.
This little creation reaffirmed what I aim to do when I make a card--I want it to become something more than just a greeting card. I want the receiver to feel a connection to the piece; feel as if it were made just for them.
I am so thankful to my Grandfather, for I would not be the maker I am without his influence and inspiration. I can't wait to send him this little piece of my creative self to brighten up his birthday.