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Bails Blog

Painting on Canvas

Spreading Love and Painting Memories, While Continuing to Stay Inside!

Different phases of collaboration. My grandpa and I working on painting and bringing to life some old black and white photographs from his book, Remembering and Rambling On. March 2020.

Hello friends!

As we begin another weekend in our new reality, I thought I’d share what my grandpa and I have been doing to stay busy, while social distancing as much as humanly possible!

First, a little background story. Several months ago, I started what I thought would be a long lasting tradition. Every Wednesday I visited my grandpa to catch up, surprisingly get insight into his relationship with his cat, sometimes listen to old country music and to make a hearty slow cooker meal for him and my mom to enjoy later in the evening. It was a great way to spend quality time with Pa and treat both him and my mom to dinner once a week.


Wednesday Tradition Ends and a Collaboration Starts

Wow how things change! For two Wednesdays I knew in the back of my mind that our weekly hangout would be coming to an abrupt end. Because of the coronavirus. So, I started thinking of alternative ways to keep the momentum going. The first idea that came to mind was for him and I to collaborate on a series of paintings! As we sat at his dining room table for the last time before quarantine, I passed the thought by him and he was totally on board. I also just so happened to bring a blank canvas with me that day.


Collaboration Proposal

Together, create a series of paintings that specifically brings black and white photographs from the book my grandpa wrote, Remembering and Rambling On, to life by painting the memories on canvas with colorful acrylic paint.


Our Process

We looked through the photographs in his book, Remembering and Rambling On, to get an idea of what images to focus on recreating first. True to his desire for a good challenge, he gravitated towards more detailed and complicated photos to start with. This was super exciting. We ultimately decided to start by working from the photograph of the house my grandma grew up in, in Peever, SD. I immediately got started drawing my grandma’s childhood home on the canvas I had with me that day.

It’s been one month ago today since our last in-person Wednesday check-in, on March 11th, when we started this project. Now we have five pieces in progress!


For each piece:

  • I quickly freehand the general composition on the canvas with pencil and then finalize the line drawings with a sharpie
    • Pencil first to draw quickly without worry, and pencil marks can erase easily after the sharpie drawing is complete
    • The goal is for this to be a solid base to work from, not detailed and not time intensive
  • Important step due to current situation! Drop the canvas off on my grandpas porch and wave from the window
    • My grandpa then adds details to the base drawing that stand out in his memory
    • Lastly, he starts bringing the black and white photographs to life by painting each scene with color acrylic paint


I cant wait to varnish, frame and hang each piece! These paintings are going to be cherished for years to come 🙂

I hope you enjoy! 🙂


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