Around 100 years ago Mildred Anderson drew a map of South America for her primary school Geography lesson. The map, drawn on lined, notebook paper, is the earliest artifact that I have from her small sample of artwork.
Her colored pencil drawings are not only technically good, they are pleasing to view. I was given a plastic envelope, containing five drawings, including the map, a couple of years after Mildred’s death.
I was never told about her artistic ambitions. I only knew that she was a teacher at a rural Wayne County, Nebraska school. Later, in life, she worked as a secretary at an architecture/construction firm here in Norfolk, Nebraska.
She married one of the neighbor boys, Russell Johnson. She was mom to three scrapping sons and a daughter. the oldest kid grew up to be my father. Most of her time and effort was spent raising the kids and tending to the never ending chores that farmwives perform.
Even though Mildred never hinted at her own artistic yearnings, she encouraged her children’s and grandchildren’s efforts. A generous supply of scratch paper, crayons, colored pencils and water color paints ready for our use.
She made sure to have plenty of educational toys like Lincoln Logs and Tinkertoys at the ready.
She was always encouraging when my brother and I sat at her dining room table to sketch and draw. We were never pressured to go outside and get out of anyone’s way. We could do artwork to our heart’s content.
The art of family life is what I remember best about Mildred. The photo was taken on her birthday in 1963. She is the lady at the right, wearing the apron. The kid in the Cub Scout uniform is one of her grandsons, me.