Feature Story: An Empty Nest, A Truck and A Tractor

When my friend, Jennifer Emery was a small child, she remembers she always enjoyed art time at school and church. “I remember getting my first watercolor set – one of those inexpensive Crayola 12 color sets, and attempting to copy the flower on the side of a Kleenex box.”

Emery, a wife of one and mother of three, said, “I would watch Bob Ross on PBS and was just mesmerized by his talent and soothing voice.”

During her senior year of high school, Jennifer took an art class. “That would be the extent of my formal art education.”

She stated that she would create simple pieces of art for family members as gifts, but then “life got in the way, and the paints got store away for a number of years.” Two years ago, Jennifer’s children were leaving home for higher educational opportunities. “I experienced like many- empty nest syndrome.” According to her, this new change in her life affected her more than she thought it would, and she began having physical symptoms to the extent of chest pains.

Numerous medical tests were done, and it was determined that “I was extremely healthy.” Jennifer’s doctor diagnosed it as stress and anxiety. She had been suppressing her feelings and emotions related to her children leaving home.

“Once that came to light, and we knew what we were dealing with, the doctor instructed me to seek outlets for my stress relief to distract me. I thought about how much joy I received when I created artwork for others, and decided to pull out all of my art supplies from storage,” Jennifer said.

She began, just for fun, painting a couple of pieces for her daughters, like a chicken and a jellyfish. “When I posted the photos on social media, they received quite a bit of interest, and people began making requests of me.”

With a number of commissioned pieces and several art exhibits and showings, including one that is going on now through October at the LaGrange Art Museum, Jennifer discovered she is loving art more than ever. “I keep a folder on my computer of painting ideas as I find inspiration from just about anywhere,” she said. Jennifer has painted beloved pets, random cows, flowers, streetscapes, guitars and the list goes on.

Recently, Jennifer contacted me about a picture that I had posted once of my 85-year-old father in his 1986 Toyota Truck. The old truck, in spite of looking a lot worse for wear, still runs, and allows my dad to haul limbs, leaves, tow his tractor from one place to the other, and so on and so on. When she saw the photo, she just thought it would make for a good painting.

We couldn’t find the original, so my dad, James Holland, was a good sport, and we recreated the photo. It is one of the paintings that Jennifer chose to exhibit in the LaGrange show. The painting is in acrylic and is hanging as part of the VAAL: VISUAL ARTISTS ALLIANCE OF LAGRANGE exhibit running August 16-October 19, 2019.

According to the LaGrange Art Museum website, “This annual exhibition gives local, amateur, and emerging artists who are members of VAAL to exhibit their work in a museum setting. The mission of VAAL is to bring together LaGrange area artists to form a more cohesive and supportive artist community, foster their activities, and to amplify their visibility and voice in the wider community.”

Jennifer’s artwork is titled, “Something about a truck,” a reference to a country song that gained Jennifer’s interest. While taking the photo of the truck, my dad thought it might be a good idea to send her a photo of him on his father’s Ferguson Tractor – way over 50 years of age. When we sent both pictures to Jennifer, we only expected her to use the one of the truck. Either that night or the next day, she sent me back photos of the beginnings of both paintings.

The tractor also hangs in the museum as part of the exhibit. The title of that piece, also done in acrylic, is titled, “Up on a Tractor.” Once the exhibit ends, Jennifer plans on coming to meet with my dad to present him with these wonderful pieces of art. For those interested in seeing a video of the opening of the show on August 16 at the LaGrange Art Museum.

Look for JYEmeryArt on Facebook, Instagram and Etsy for more of Jennifer’s artwork. You can contact her for commission information, feel free to contact me at jydemery@gmail.com or message her through one of the social media accounts mentioned. Click here to see the video of the opening. HERE FOR VIDEO

We have teased Daddy about being in a museum – he is old enough – he will be 86 in September. Those who know my dad know he is pretty reflective, a bit private and humbled by the paintings which brought out a smile.

And for those who know Jennifer, who couldn’t help but cheer! Her story from the stress of the empty nest to the commissioned artist is inspiring.

If you are in LaGrange, check out the exhibit at the museum, and stop by Charlie Joseph’s for a hot dog. You won’t be disappointed.


Author: rlhwrites

Curator of prose and such.