Honoring a family farm: a Christmas commission for Betty Grisham

TFAA artist Betty Grisham often draws and paints faces, places, and pets that mean the world to the people who ask her for customized art—but some recent visitors to her studio reminded her just how personal a commission can be for an artist as well.

This autumn, Grisham created an oil painting for Karen and Keith, a couple who live in Del Ray, Virginia.  Keith’s three other brothers still live near the family farm in Washington State where he grew up, and he wanted to give his parents a painting of the homestead as a Christmas gift. “The parents recently won an important county award for their farm,” Grisham says, “and the ‘boys’ are all really proud of them.”

Using photos of the farm, which she calls “breathtakingly beautiful,” Grisham worked for a month on a two-foot-by-four-foot oil painting that incorporates dozens of wonderful details, including familiar livestock, beloved pets, favorite tractors, local wildlife, gorgeous wildflowers, and some of the father’s 100 bird houses mounted on fence posts—all of it framed by Mount Hood and Mount Adams and harmonized by Grisham’s gentle use of artistic license.

“I had to move the mountains closer together and raise the main pond so that everything would show in the painting,” she says. “It’s not to scale, but somewhat symbolic.”

In early December, Keith and Karen visited the Torpedo Factory and were delighted by the finished painting. Now that Christmas has passed, Grisham hopes to witness the parents’ reaction firsthand by visiting the scene she so fondly depicted.

“This family is amazing,” she says. “I fell in love with them, and eventually I intend to go out to Goldendale, where the farm is located—and meet the parents.”

Commission Betty Grisham to paint or draw your world. See more of her artwork in studio 17 of the Torpedo Factory, or visit www.bettygrishamstudio.com.

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