Painting of Orange Elephants

Painting of elephantsPainting of Elephants by my Uncle.

My uncle and my daddy were roommates in college; they married sisters, were both architects, and designed and built their family’s homes. Whereas my daddy did photography (see one of his photos here), Uncle Dean was a painter.

As long as he was working, his art interests were curtailed — a matter of time I’d assume — and his projects seemed to be mostly for his family. One Christmas he made a complete set of felt decorations for their tree. I remember them as fantastic, with touches of sequin, but I can no longer describe them.

After he retired, he took up painting full-time, taking classes and joining the Colorado Watercolor Society and having work accepted for their exhibitions. He knew I was interested in art, so when I visited, he’d take me down to the basement where he had his canvases stacked against the wall. One by one he’d take the new ones out, turn them around and we’d talk about the pictures. This one was one of his favorites. The assignment in his class had been to use the color orange. He told me that orange was a very difficult color to integrate into a picture, but he felt he’d done it.

He also taught me about acrylic paints – how they can be used thick, like oil, or thinned and used like watercolor. And he made me see how difficult watercolor is: if the artist wants white in the painting, he must leave blank paper. To have the whole picture in your mind’s eye and to control the paint around white space seems to me impossible.

After Uncle Dean died, my cousin had prints of some of his paintings made. I asked for this one and have always loved it. It hangs in my living room, reminding me of a kind and talented man.


  1. Robin says:

    Dad liked the color orange. We had an orange couch he designed and built. When I think of orange, I think of the ’70’s. Your Uncle Dean appears to have been a talented painter. I love the elephants. And yes, I think he did an excellent job incorporating orange into his painting!

  2. It sounds like a fun assignment to paint with a color you didn’t pick for yourself. Your uncle did a great job with it, and it was so nice of your cousin to give you a print. You were lucky to have him in your life.

  3. Brandy says:

    I have always loved this painting too, I’m privileged to be able to see it when I visit your cousins in the house your uncle built. We were blessed to receive several of those canvases in the basement after he past and they still hang in our home. I’m so thankful I had the chance to meet him and your aunt and call them Grandpa and Grandpa, even for just a few years. Thanks for sharing a story that gave me a clearer picture of them. And if you ever want to get a closer look at those ornaments, we have a full set and you’re welcome any time. šŸ™‚

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