Thursday, 10 September 2009

Retiring From Service


No, not me, my smock...

Readers who've been looking in for a while may recall the special significance of the smock that I work in:


Pastels are a very messy business and, for over 10 years now, I have been wearing this wonderfully grubby old painter's smock, which used to belong to my grandad.

Here he is wearing it in the mid 80's, so it's probably been going for about 30 years! Before retirement, Grandad was a restoration artist (he worked on the ceiling paintings at Blenheim Palace, where he met the Queen) but he was also a fanatical painter, right to the day he died. He mainly liked to copy old masters in oils.

Wearing his old smock has felt like a lovely homage to him. Under my pastel dust there are still daubs of his oil paint, and putting it in the washing machine makes little difference to the grungy colour.

It even has little holes in the front where occasionally Grandad dropped half-smoked roll-ups into his lap while he painted, but was so deep in concentration, he didn't notice!


This is him painting much earlier: I can't believe he's in a shirt and tie!! The photo must predate the smock, as you can just make out a paint-splattered shirt hanging in the background. Perhaps he was posing for the photo and that's why he isn't wearing it. Check out that TV!

Though I don't believe in such things, I confess I have occasionally thought it would be nice if Grandad had looked in on me wearing his smock.

Unfortunately, after so many years of loyal service, the poor thing is finally falling apart. I've kept it going as long as possible but, as you can see, the cotton is actually rotting away. Sadly, the time has come to lay it to rest and christen a new one.

Here's me in the studio, testing out the new incarnation: smart, but not quite the same, eh? Don't worry: I'll keep Grandad's old one safe. I couldn't possibly throw it away after all this time.

19 comments:

Julie Broom said...

I think that's so lovely that you've worn his smock for all those years. It can be such a material world that we live in these days that a story like this is heartwarming. :-)

granny grimble said...

Thank you for that lovely walk down memory lane with Grandad. It bought a tear to my eye, but was beautifully written. I am so glad that you are keeping the smock, as I was going to ask you not to throw it away if it wasn't too late. Despite what you feel I am sure he looks down on you and is so proud.
Mum XX

Co. said...

What a lovely story for your grandad's smock !
Very touching !
Enjoy your new one and take care of your Grandad's one !

Babs-beetle said...

Dad (Grandad) was always so proud when any one of his family followed his footsteps into the artistic world. I'm sure, if it's possible, he has kept a close watch on all your work, and been thrilled that you've been wearing his smock with pride - I am ;)

Tomás Serrano said...

A nice story.

cassia said...

lovely story, lovely smock. Also liking the new look though- very Japanese chic!

I'd LOVE a smock. Sadly, all bar the biscuit and tea dribbles I create, I'm thinking photoshop makes the idea redundant for me. I guess my version of 'the smock' is using one of liam's holey, old socks (clean, I might add!) as a tablet glove... not quite so romantic, eh?!

wendy w. lee said...

great story of a smock with history!

bluelilac said...

I think you have the makings of a new storybook.
Grandfather's Smock
Such a wonderful story!
That new black one is very spiffy indeed.
Love your artwork!

Lynne Chapman said...

Cassia - I do hope you washed Liam's sock first and didn't just whip it off him in as he passed by... As a children's illustrator, I do think it should be a sock-puppet though.

Doda said...

What a wonderful story, and I love the photos of your grandad.

Jessie said...

That's a lovely story of passing on the smock and lovely that you used it for the same purpose rather than keep it in a drawer. Seeing the shirt hanging up reminds me of when we had to take in an old shirt to use for art in school! I wish you many happy years on your new smock!xx

Thomas Taylor said...

A touching story.

Croom said...

What a wonderfull memory jerker, I so enjoyed seeing Dad (Grandad) doing what he loved best. We all miss him and am sure he looks down on all of us. Croom

Mary Lou said...

Really liked your Grandpa story. I've been checking out your blog for a couple of weeks now, you're quite a inspiration!

Lynne Chapman said...

Thank you everyone for your lovely feedback. I thought you might enjoy that story.

Damian Harvey said...

Lynne, that really is lovely, and I can't add any more to the comments that everyone else had made (especially your Mum).

So... being a children's author, I'm just going to ask whether you are also going to change that pair of socks you've been wearing for the last 10 years.
xx

jazzlamb said...

Wow! Amazing work!!!
The smoc is historic! Preserve it well:)

anne said...

OMG what a wonderful studio! Love the light and the windows in the ceiling. What a fantastic work space!
And your illustrations, boy oh boy, amazing. But I just love the portraits you made (like those from the train)!! It's so nice to see talents doing what they do best, it's fascinating.
Keep up the great work! :)

林宥嘉yoga said...
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