Tag Archives: art

Glue leaf watercolor paintings

This idea I saw from another friend’s pin on Pinterest. It totally went well with the whole fall and leaves theme we were doing. Basically you draw in glue, let it dry and watercolor over it.



Sprout’s originally had a lot more colors and definition between colors, but in the end he got a little crazy and knocked the brush rinse water cup all over his. Big mess. Just par for the course around here today.

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Paul Martin

My dad just sent this to me and I thought I’d share it. It’s a tribute to my grandpa done up by Eastern State Penitentiary.

A Tribute to Eastern State Penitentiary’s Catholic Chaplain’s Office Mural Artist

Lester Wallace Smith
July 11, 1924 – September 28, 2003

As Paul Martin turned back to his work he brushed the orange-red color onto the religious scene with fervor. He was painting the fires of hell and he had felt their fury.
Evening Bulletin, May 17, 1955

Communion of Saints, Eastern State Penitentiary

Lester W. Smith was born in Medford, Massachusetts on July 11, 1924. He described his early childhood as difficult. His mother, a single parent, struggled to support him and his younger brother during the Great Depression. She gave up when they were six and four and placed them in a foster home. The family reunited when she remarried seven years later.

Often in trouble during his teens, Lester enlisted in the Army at age 17. He served in World War II. While in combat in Germany, a bullet went through a friend, killing him and then hitting Lester – an event that earned him a Purple Heart.

After his Army career, Lester married Mary Mannke on Valentines Day 1947. By 1960, they had six children. It was also during these years that Smith led a secret life of crime. Between November 1953 and February 1954, Lester and a friend committed four armed holdups. He was arrested in Scranton and sentenced for a year in the county jail for a concealed weapons charge.

While in Lackawanna County Jail awaiting sentencing for the armed robberies, Lester had a life changing spiritual experience.

I used to mock the ministers and the priests, but one night I found I couldn’t go it alone anymore. First I cried and then I prayed. The next night something made me take a pencil and sketch a scene on the nearest wall.
Evening Bulletin, May 17, 1955

He had sketched the crucifixion, and this drew the attention of a visiting priest. Lester asked for his help in becoming a Roman Catholic. He undertook a period of study with the priest and was then baptized. Later at his sentencing hearing in Philadelphia, the judge, noting Smith’s conversion in jail and passion for his new-found religion, sentenced him to the minimum term of a year. Meanwhile, his accomplice drew ten years.

Crucifixion, c. 1955, Collection of Eastern State Penitentiary, gift of the Smith Family

The young man with the crew haircut brushed a bit of bright red orange onto the scene sketched in pencil on the waiting room wall…”I have a lot to answer for,” the young man said between strokes of this brush.
Evening Bulletin, May 17, 1955

Lester Smith served his term at Eastern State Penitentiary. This time his religious sketches were noticed by Father Gallagher, the Catholic Chaplain, who offered him the opportunity to paint on the walls of his office. He signed the 23 murals painted in the two rooms “Paul Martin” after the two saints that inspired him.

Lester Smith. c.1955, Collection of Eastern State Penitentiary, gift of the Smith Family

After Smith left prison, he exemplified the life of a reformed criminal, and he managed to keep his prison life a secret from most of his children for decades. His first job, at the Police Publication company, lasted ten years until the death of his boss. His seventh child was born in 1980. Outside work, he continued to paint, box, coach Little League, try to publish three books, and argue with his children and others about his favorite subject – world politics.

He was without a doubt a wonderful father and took his responsibility very seriously. He was a hard worker and worked until he was 73 at which time he retired.
Lester Smith Eulogy by daughter Sylvia Smith Anderson, 2003

After brain surgery in 2001 he entered a nursing home where he lived the last two years of his life. He died at age 79, a member of the Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Norfolk, Virginia. After his death, members of his family came to Eastern State to see the murals. They brought with them the collection of the c. 1955 black and white photographs taken of the young man and his murals.

Lester Smith with granddaughter Alicia Johnson

He truly was a loving person, a caring individual, who loved nature and the world and felt that God gave him a good life. Twenty grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren survive him so he has left a little part of himself in each one of us. We will deeply miss him.
Sylvia Smith Anderson, 2003


Filed under Faith, Family

The crafty bug

OK, we still don’t technically have Internet. Well we might have already had it if I had been home yesterday when UPS tried to deliver our goods from Verizon. Oops. But if I hold my computer at just the right angle I can get connected on an unsecured network here in the apartment complex.

The craft bug hit yesterday and since then I have accomplished three, yes three, little projects. So I thought I’d share.

First, here’s my take on the Anthro bird display…

I’m still not sure if I completely like it. The whole thing is pretty easily removed though, so I’m not worried. Right now I’m just trying to let it grow on me. Stephen’s response to the “art” on the walls? “I think we can get away with it because we have kids. I think they’re fun. They’re pretty girly.”

Anyway, the way I did it was I purchased one of those scrapbook stacks (Talia’s idea), made four templates, traced and cut them out then used Scotch brand removable foam mounting squares (Ruth’s idea) to attach them to the wall. I did try the more clustered look that the window display had going on, but I really didn’t like it.

After my art project, I decided to make a couple of jingly blocks for Bean with some of the leftover quilt squares, polyfill and bells I had…

Then this morning I finally finished Olive so she joined her best friend Archie for a picture on the chair in the livingroom…

Of course we all know that Olive and Archie can’t resist a good playground, so they are pretty happy about the fact that there is one just a few feet from our front door…

(I’m sure my neighbors all think I’m crazy now for taking pictures of dolls on playground equipment)

Bean loves all the toys I’ve just made her, but she’s being a bit of a grump today and so I have her down for her second nap right now. I’m hoping she’s a little more cheery the next time she wakes up.

Oh and Bean’s new room is just about finished. I just need to hang up her name shelf. I did find some pretty sweet wall decals at Target though so I applied them yesterday. Here’s a peak at her room…

That lamp and shade were procured in my first IKEA experience.

I can’t wait to unpack Bean’s books and fill that little built-in shelving unit.


Filed under Craftopia, Family, Homemade, Ramblings