Dorothy Paddock 1905-1990

Dorothy Paddock 1905-1920

Both of my grandmothers were called Dorothy. My father’s mother was Florence Dorothy – she used her middle name, and this Dorothy, my mother’s mother, had no middle name. She was just Dorothy, pronounced with three full syllables. She was mild-mannered, earned a masters degree late in life, and worked as a reference librarian. This grandmother, who I called Grandmother, was from Wichita.

I finished her portrait a couple of years ago and then finished it again recently. I like to just keep adding layers and in this case the final layer was uncolored encaustic wax on just her face and neck. Even more so in person it has a nice built up, flesh-like semi-matte texture that clouds her a little. I thought the likeness was pretty accurate when I was done painting, but she looked too crisp. Not that she had no crispness in life, just that she had many, many layers of self-possession in effect at all times.

She had an adorable way of wrinkling up her nose impishly when something was funny. (I hesitate to bring that up because then when I look at the way I painted her nose I think it looks too straight and skinny. But I’m not fixing it again.) She said, “I eat my peas with honey, I’ve done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny but it keeps them on the knife.”

This one usually followed: “There was a fox in the hen house one night. The farmer heard a commotion and ran out to save the chickens. He knocked on the door and yelled, “Who’s in there?!” The fox answered, “No one but us chickens.”

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