When I began thinking about Jenna’s newest escapades, my father’s painting came to mind. It was always one of my favorites that he painted. The story took root in the discovery of that painting and lots of shanangins surrounding it. I thought my readers might be interested in learning more about the real painting and how it affected me.
My father was an excellent artist. Unlike many, he made a career with his art. He painted portraits, still life scenes, landscapes and much more. I remember watching him at his easel as a child. When we lived in Pennsylvania, he’d set up a studio in the attic of our house where there was a lot of natural light. He’d stand at his easel, in a short-sleeved white shirt with a brush in hand, splash the canvas with paint, and before long images appeared. Both my little sister and I would watch for hours. Fascinated. The copy of the Sisley was painted long before I was born. And, like I pointed out in the book, he never sold it. He sold everything else he painted. My mom loved one of his paintings and made him promise never to sell it. Of course, when a buyer came along, it was sold. She didn’t learn of the transaction until after he died. I’ve never seen that painting. We only have a few left and the Sisley is one. It was the one I wanted as a child. My sister will get the painting he did of her as a baby. It’s also quite amazing.
I had no idea that the Sisley scene was a copy. I grew up gazing at it in wonder, just as Jenna described in the book. But, when my husband and I went to Paris and visited the d’Orsay museum, I spotted it hanging with the famous Impressionists. I exclaimed, “There’s my father’s painting!” Little did I know that my father painted that scene a long time after Sisley. I’d always believed the setting for the painting was Italy, likely Venice, because my father was Italian. But, when I saw the Sisley, I learned the setting was Port Marly and the artist painted it after a great flood. Because my father died when I was eight years old, I could never ask him about this painting. Why he copied a master, why that scene? I have no answers. So, I made a few up in my book. I’ve included his painting as well as the original painted by Alfred Sisley in 1876. You can see the differences. I’d love to ask why he didn’t paint it exactly like the master, but again…
He made his living decorating furniture, hand painted oriental designs. But, I believe he loved doing the oils. I have a few pen and inks,, but for the most part he worked in oil. I’ve never seen a watercolor by my dad.
So, that’s the story of what inspired A Painting to Die For. I hope my real Italian cousins will forgive me my imagination and creative liberties. I love them all and as Jenna said, they brought light where there was darkness after the death of my father.