Our Family and Art

I am a firm believer that art belongs in every person’s life. That it’s worthwhile; necessary for our sanity. Art and design was all around me growing up. My childhood home always had one of a kind paintings hung on the wall and handmade ceramic decor on the shelves. Creating and receiving handmade Christmas gifts was the norm. From these experiences both Kendra and I learned that the right painting, sculpture, or piece of decor will enlist a feeling of warmth, energy, and wonder. I didn’t appreciate enough at first, but once I left home and lived in my own place, I grew to understand how impactful art and design can be in your everyday life.

 

Boy Walking Home from the River by Virgil DegesWatercolor painting by our grandfather, Virgil Deges

 

Our grandfather, Virgil Deges, was an avid painter, teaching art in his early years and continuing to paint all the way up to his passing. A farmer in western Kansas, his specialty was watercolor portraits of beautiful midwestern landscapes. Sometimes the landscapes were realistic, other times an abstract flair would emerge. When I was younger, each summer I would work on his farm for a week and every year we would take an evening or two and paint. I wasn’t a great painter then, and I am not a good one now either, but I would do my best at making a serene landscape under my grandpa’s instruction. Watercolor was a frustrating medium for both Kendra and I. We couldn’t control the paint from bleeding all over the place. Yet, summer after summer he would sit in his studio chair and help us through patiently, showing us all the tricks. He taught me to start with a color wash and layer the colors with intention rather than just diving right in without a plan. I distinctly remember being blown away when he picked up an old envelope opener and created perfect tree branches out of a messy green blob I had just painted. When I was disappointed in my prairie field I’d created, he gave me some salt to sprinkle, creating a beautiful flower scene out of nowhere. With his guidance, the painting came to life. These lessons lead to a deep respect for artists and their talents. It wasn’t as easy as I thought.

 

Abstract Cityscape by Brenda LemonAbstract Cityscape by our mother, Brenda Lemon

 

Passion for art was passed down from my grandfather to his children, all massively creative in their own talents. My mother, Brenda Lemon, followed right in his footsteps, teaching art and art history at a small Kansas school. However unlike her father, her strengths and interests lie in large, abstract acrylic and mixed media artwork. My mother would expose us to all sorts of art. Summers were filled with paper mache projects, acrylic painting, and drawing pictures I would often pull out of my favorite magazines. She helped us enter art competitions at the local county fairs. Sometimes Kendra and I would go into the art studio where our mom would give us some extra clay to play with. We would sit there for hours, crafting our little cups and pencil holders. She would then give us a pick of the glaze colors. I remember being fascinated that the colors would come out of the kiln so bright and vibrant after being looking so dull on the wet clay. After graduating and getting my first solo apartment, her works filled my blank walls. My current office houses two of her paintings. I constantly receive compliments and inquires about where I bought them. Pride fills my voice when I explain their origins.

 

I didn’t get natural artistic talent like Kendra did, but I admittedly never took the time to seriously develop the skill. My passion was sports and competition growing up. Yet the constant exposure to different kinds of art has bled into my life. I appreciate paintings, drawings, and sculptures for the creativity and passion in them. I know the work that goes into each piece. I find myself annoyed by plain public spaces filled with nothing but concrete. I truly believe all types of art should surround us every day. Not only through fine art like paintings and sculptures, but also through the everyday items that we use and interact. I understand how good design can lift a person, establish a mood, and inspire awe. How it can improve your daily life just by having it around. My family showed me how it's done.

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