My grandmother Claire was a painter. She studied at the Art Students League of New York and created beautiful semi-abstract paintings in vivid colors. Later, when she moved out to California, she taught me to oil paint. She would set up an easel in the backyard or in her kitchen and let me roam free on canvas. She taught me how to clean the brushes on a bar of soap to keep the bristles soft. And she would heat up a can of chicken broth for lunch, adding little noodles and peas. It was my favorite!
When my grandma passed away, I inherited her old wooden box of paints, her brushes, and her unfinished canvases. Today, whenever I pick up a brush, or even smell a bit of turpentine, I think of her.
There is a painting in my room that I made last year. I left it a bit unfinished because I liked it that way. I can imagine my grandma, sitting in her kitchen somewhere, filling in the missing brushstrokes.