I Promise

I swear I am going to start blogging more… I tell myself as I check Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, other Tumblr account, email, Snapchat, Tagstr, Vine, Periscope, and more… Well now I am just tired.

I am writing this blog post a little update to all friends and followers about what’s been happening the last few weeks and why I have only been pretty much minimally active on everything. Also, I have gotten a few emailed questions from people I’ve met at shows/online about art, design, and photography related topics and I thought maybe that would be something that more than one person would find interesting so why not turn it in to future blog posts!

SO the last week or so has been interesting. My grandmother (that’s my mom’s step mom for those of you who know the family) is entering in to her last stages of life. In preparation for the end she wants to make things easier on the family and my grandpa by going through her belongings with everyone before it becomes what she calls a “burden” on us. I have to give her credit for dealing with this so directly. I mean, she is a pretty damn strong woman so I am not surprised, but should still give her major props.

Last Friday I went down with my mom and brother to spend the day with her going through items she wanted to pass to me, and as I found out that day, clean the pond out in the backyard. Hmmm. Sneaky sneaky! J

After Bryan, my older brother, and I had spent the better part of the morning emptying what can only be described as rotting death water from the pond – I am not kidding, it was putrid - it was time to start the task I was originally asked to come help with.

I posted about this on my Instagram (@imstephenmiller fyi) that going through her art supplies was probably the hardest task she could have asked of me. Why? My grandma is phenomenal artist, her passion and dedication to her mediums was and is unwavering. It was soul crushing to watch her go through and organize the things that brought her so much love and enjoyment, if not also purpose, and to put these items in plain old boxes as if they were like any other day-to-day item.

It wasn’t all bad/sad. She opened boxes of old sketches and found poems and pieces that us grandkids did when we were “little shavers.” She got to see work she did years ago and hasn’t seen since because it’s been buried under quilting material or canvases. She shared stories about each and every piece. All the reference pictures she saved, still life’s she’s done, everything. It was all there. Even great grandpa Harold’s old sketches and lesson books. She could tell me almost everything about every item she had. As she spoke you could see the joy …and the sadness on her face knowing that this was going to be the last time she would see them…

It was the first time that the sense of mortality was present for me. Her recounting her memories made the inevitability of her death all the more real. Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for that. When I got home all I could do was cry. I just sat there starring at the stuff. I still am as I sit here sorting through paper and paint just thinking about what each of the items I am holding meant for her. You can feel people’s spirit in the things the love. Every one of us leaves a piece of ourselves in the things that mean the most. I can tell which brushes she loved to use the most and what colors were here favorite and that she was always running out of them… haha. It’s hard to explain, but maybe I shouldn’t try. Most of you will know exactly what I am talking about anyways.

I’ve managed now to go through probably 90% of what she gave me and organized it in to my “studio.” Let’s just say space is………limited now. If only the room were 50 square feet bigger!

Out of all my grandparents, grandma Pat has always been the most encouraging when it came to my art. I remember getting chewed out the day she heard that I stopped pursuing my art degree. She was so disappointed, but on some level I think she empathized with my own artistic frustrations. However, I am glad she has opportunity to see me pursue my love before she passes.

I will never forget the words she said to me before I left Friday. “Stephen, don’t you dare ever give up on your art again. You have to take the time to craft your skills in ALL of your mediums. You have to promise me.”

I did promise. I do promise.

Mostly because I don’t want to be haunted hahaha and I KNOW she would too!

I look forward to sharing the treasures I find with you all. Until next time.




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