14" x 17", ink and wash on bristol board, 2005, private collection
This is a painting of my father's mother (who we affectionately called Baba Lenka) based on a photo taken about ten years ago. She died six years ago this month and was my and my sister's last remaining grandparent. I don't remember the first time I met her when I was a baby, but our family visited Macedonia in 1978 and I do remember that trip fondly.
Here she is gathering potatoes on the family farm in the village of Nošpal in Macedonia. She died a very old woman and, although she may have had a crooked back, her handwriting in the letters she wrote to us --even into her advanced years-- was always straight as an arrow.
I also did a painting on her on the steps of her home with her famous peppers.
She's also been on my mind recently since my wife Krista and I have just bought a farm of our own and we're slowly making it into the home of our dreams. And interesting circle is completing itself: my parents grew up on separate poor village farms, came to Toronto and gave me and my sister (who's named after our baba) everything...and now I've left the city to go back to my own farm. And I couldn't be happier.
In 2017 I did a colour version of this in oils for my Phase Two contribution to my collaborative painting project with Celia Sage.