My Grandma and Modern Art

I’m writing this post today as I’m missing my grandma and family very much. Since I can’t be with them this Thanksgiving due to Covid this is my way of connecting with them again. Also to share with you about the role my grandma played in me becoming an artist and the role you can play.  Don’t underestimate a small choice like having a piece of art on your walls for future generations. 

So when I was a little girl I started drawing a lot around age ten. I always loved being creative. Making things, coloring, and doing arts and crafts like a lot of kids. My grandma lived in another state. We didn’t get to see her very often but I remember a visit to her house when I was about eleven. Her walls were filled with drawings and paintings. I was so curious and had to ask her about them. I was amazed that my grandma had done most of them! A lot of them were landscapes and portraits, but she even had a couple of still-life paintings up on the wall too. My grandma explained to me that she had done these drawings and paintings. It connected me to her and I felt like somebody had something in common with me when it came to making art in a way that I had never felt before. 

A photo of an original oil painting on panel of a still life painting of a Delft Blue Vase and a plate of pears by Kelli Folsom.

My grandma was the first person to give me any type of art instruction books with representational art in it in them. Most of these were Walter Foster books including books on portrait and figure drawing. She gave me some books on landscape and still life too. She also gifted me my first set of oil paints. Even though I would hardly use oil paints because I didn’t understand color or how to use the paint. The seed was still planted and it took deep root. 

My grandma played an integral role in my becoming an artist. To be seen by an adult,  to have a gift in you nurtured by an adult as a child is a very special thing. It was one of the first times that I felt like I had an identity of my own. I felt I had a shared commonality as well with my grandma. My grandma sowed the seeds for me to become an artist even though it wasn’t very fertile ground. I mean there wasn’t much opportunity for me to even become an artist but those initial seeds would bloom. 

I gave up drawing and painting around 18. Because there was no opportunity for me to become an artist at that time. I didn’t know how to make the opportunity for myself. So it took a little while for that seed to bloom. Finally, when I was 28  I’d reached some level of maturity (and dissatisfaction) with my life so I decided to enroll in art school. The rest is history. 

The second reason I’m telling you this story is because I realized in art school that modern art ruined art for the everyday person. Once modern art came into play you had to be super intelligent and elite to understand art. Or you had to enjoy the grotesque, the disgusting, and the darkness of the soul to appreciate art. artistic appreciation and education diminished over time. So I ended up with no art education at the schools I attended. Hardly any evidence of artists or art existed in my childhood life. Being raised in a lower-middle-class family in Texas and Oklahoma it was even more limited than others. If it wasn’t for my grandma I may not even be an artist today. 

I’m telling you this because I am on a mission to bring back museum-quality representational art to be everyday home to the everyday person. I don’t think that art has to be ugly. I don’t think it has to be a hyper-intelligent conceptual thing that doesn’t make any sense. I don’t think art has to match your sofa.  I don’t think in order for art to be relatable to the masses it has to be hokey or cheesy either. 

We find ourselves in this extreme place of elite vs. common. If you are an everyday person you can only like artwork like Thomas Kincaid. If you’re part of the elite or the 1% you must like artwork that auctions at a high price at Christie’s or Art Basel. My mission is to bridge the gap between these two extremes for the everyday person. Beautiful original one-of-a-kind art should be in every home for everyone to enjoy and for children to enjoy and be inspired by. Beauty is still RELEVANT. If you have original art hanging on your walls I want you to know that you can inspire the next generation to appreciate art. You can help them to appreciate human potential and beauty. 

Every choice, even an art purchase,  has a ripple effect. Having one piece of beautiful original art hanging on your walls whether made by yourself or by somebody else can change lives. My grandma’s changed mine. Thank you grandma for seeing me and nurturing my gift!

P.S. There’ll be another opportunity for you to get one of my paintings on sale this weekend for Black Friday. If you want extra perks and discounts please join my Collector’s Circle here:

A photo of an original oil painting on panel of a floral still life painting of flowers, lemons, and fruit by Kelli Folsom.
A photo of an original oil painting on panel of a floral still life painting of pink roses and a green pear by Kelli Folsom.

Love in Light, Kelli

4 thoughts on “My Grandma and Modern Art

  1. Kelli, this is lovely and you are on the right mission. May I share what “we” have accomplished together? Las Vegas is a deathbed of bizarre art. I have often said it is a depository for the sad souls of a lost generation of art lessons. Bulging eyes on a madonna, scribbly nothings, and lots and lots of Frieda characters. So, my little small wall at a local gallery stands out like a sore thumb. But one day a woman came in admired my art and after three months of returning now owns over 25 pieces of “our” work. Slowly I am becoming recognized in the community and throughout my four plus year tenure in Las Vegas, I have sold well over 200 pieces. You may ask why don’t I branch out, expand, do more of my own. I do some, but to be frank, at 75 I am in my downsizing phase. My next move will be to a small first floor apartment near all the necessary amenities required in my 80’s. Your art, your classes have made an otherwise tedious life or retirement exciting and new and I sincerely thank you. I could not have done this without you. I invite you to review my own website and see some of my original pieces done before I started learning your approach. Also, I have some wonderful, beautiful pieces perfect for your art journey that I collected from around the world. I would like to give them to you so that they will not land on a shelf somewhere out there and be forgotten. You won’t be disappointed, trust me. May I have a mailing address and I will package them up and send them. Again, thank you.

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