Watch the video and follow RO as he tells his senior’s story about collecting art throughout a lifetime, and how it’s benefitted him now that he’s in the Last Third Best Third of his life:
“This is a story about collecting art. I have a simple philosophy about collecting art, and that is, a long time ago I picked a category which is pen and ink, and I picked a couple of subcategories. I wanted something in nature, something that involved human development of some kind, human construction and something that would have people in it. I do stray from those minor criteria a little bit, but generally that’s what I’m looking for as I go out and about into the world and pass through art galleries occasionally and antique stores occasionally and Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul type stores occasionally. And I keep an eye out for art that fits that category that I just described.
Pen and Ink Sketch of RO’s Grandparents’ Home
One of the first things I ever did in this category was I found a picture in my mother’s photo album of her parents’ farm house from when I was a little kid. It’s not the house that she lived in, they moved from there, upriver a little ways to a place that was called Carley, Washington. This was their Farmhouse and I had the pen and ink drawing of it done by an artist in Portland that I had met. She did a wonderful job of it. I gave it to my grandparents and it hung in their house for years and years and years until they passed away.
Fish n Chips
One of the next things that I got was something to give to my father as a gift. It’s a pen and ink of a guy chiseling the maidenhead on the front of a ship. The name of the thing, as you can see the see, is fish and chips.
When I was on my honeymoon up in Port Townsend Washington, all those years ago, going in and out of some antique stores up there, I bumped into this one. And this is one of my most favorite of all the things that I have. It immediately struck me as an elderly couple, their family had been there with them for dinner. Everybody else had gotten up the left the table, and here grandpa and grandma are leaning against each other in an embrace, enjoying the warmth of the family and the wine. And a little cherub has swept in and is sipping some of the leftover wine. I really viewed that one as an omen of my future. My future turned out much much different than that. I’ll never see any grandchildren, as far as I can tell. And I don’t have a spouse. So, as much as I dreamed of it, I didn’t cause it to actually come to pass.
My mother-in-law, when I was younger, heard of my interest in such artwork and one time when she was up at the Multnomah Falls Lodge, she discovered a series of paintings or pen and ink drawings, that were being sold as a series and bought me the series. I think it was six or seven drawings like this of waterfalls. This one represents Multnomah Falls. So there’s a sketch of the falls, then there’s an interpretive sketch along the edge. Each of them are like that. I’ve enjoyed them very much. She gave me the original prints and I had them framed and as I say, I really enjoyed those over the years. That was very thoughtful of her and I’ve always been grateful that she did that.
Village on the Lake
Here are a couple in a row that I don’t remember at all where I got them, but they fit my criteria. This one stretches it a little bit because I don’t actually see any people in it. But there is a little development around the edge of the lake over there. The next one looks like it’s by the same artist and it looks like some people on the road, perhaps walking into that same Little Village we could see in the distance in the other one.
One time, when I was down in Ventura with some people that I really enjoyed, and was having a wonderful time with, we were wandering around and went into a little second hand store and there was this pen and ink of a scene in Boston. There are a couple of people on the sidewalk. That fit my criteria perfectly. And so I collected that. I have enjoyed it very much.
Admiring Beacon Hill
When my parents moved out of their house – my mom had died and my father was moving into a retirement center – my dad left this behind. This is something that he collected in 1990. My father was in an artillery unit stationed in Folkestone, Southern England during WWii, and they were shooting down the German doodle Bugs that were coming across the channel into England. On the back of this my father had written, “a gift from the RoyalArtilleryy Association of Dover England, June 27th, 1990.” So my father had been over there, along with my mom, and they were visiting, and attending events that were reminiscent of war battles and whatever. They gave my dad this, so I collected it when the house was being emptied and put it in my collection. There’s a soldier. There’s the White Cliffs of Dover. It fit my collection very well. I’m very happy to have it.
The Cliffs of Dover
About a month ago a friend of mine called me up and said “hey, I’ve been doing a lot of doodling lately, and I have a place to hang my artwork, my doodles. There’s going to be a show in March. Can you come to it?” I looked at my calendar and discovered, “nah, I’ve got a conflict Tina. I can’t go to that.” She said “well, I’m going to hang it on a certain day and then it’s about five days later that the official show happens. So you can drop by in the meantime and take a look.” So I did just that. Well, I got to the pub where her art was hanging. And of course, I had my criteria in mind. I wondered if I could find something Tina did that fit my the pen and ink criteria, that had some kind of city scene or urban scene with human development of some kind and a person or two in it. And, sure enough, number 32 on the wall was this piece which fit my criteria perfectly.
So over the years I’ve had a lot of fun collecting this and that. Some of the artwork I get is colored art. It’s not just pen and ink. If my neighbor, for example, has an art show in town, and I go to the art show and I find that she’s hung some things there, and I find something I like, I buy that to be good and neighborly and enjoy the art. And, that is true, it’s hanging on my wall. And, it is something Sarah my neighbor did.
But over time, as I wander around, I’m always looking for these pen-and-ink scenes with some kind of human development and humans in it, and I’ve enjoyed it very much. And I’ve got a bunch more.
I’ve got a small gallery that I keep all this artwork in and I can go in there and enjoy the art and look at it and reminisce about where it came from, when I got it, who I got it from and what it means to me.
Over the years I don’t know that my little collection has any value to it. But if a person wants to dedicate themselves to it, and pick a topic, that’s a really useful topic, I have read stories of people who, over their lifetimes, collected art of a certain topic, and bought it when the artists were new and young and coming out, but it fit their topic, that they were sticking to, and they collected and collected and collected, by the time they retired in life, they had a multimillion-dollar art collection.
So there are great possibilities in collecting art like this. So “make something up and go play,” is my motto. Make something up in the world of art that you think is interesting and catches your fancy. And when you see something that meets your criteria, take it home with you. That supports the artist and supports your collection and having fun in the last third and best third of your life.”
Are you a senior? Do you have a philosophy or story about collecting art over your lifetime? Share your comments and advice with your fellow Last Third Best Thirders in the comments below: