Monday, July 23, 2012

Kenny's Drawings (1948-1950)

Good morning! And isn't this just a killer little face to start your day off with? Ladies and gentleman, I want you to meet Kenny. Snazzy little guy, isn't he?

Kenny was a student at Inglewood Elementary in the late 1940's and early 1950's. He had two siblings, Joan and Johnny, and his parents were both painters (of portraits and landscapes and such, rather than, say, houses). I know all of this because I went to an estate sale this weekend in a rambling, huge house just at the end of Music Row, where the majority of stock was comprised of famous autographs. I saw a three page typed letter about the shooting of Dodge City in 1939, written and signed by Errol Flynn (the only time I've legitimately been given pause over the possibility of spending $1,000 on something other than college classes...the will was there, but the wallet was weak!), Alfred Hitchcock's famous self-portrait outline with his signature, and a Life magazine cover signed by Gary Cooper, all of which I was mightily impressed with.Upstairs was hot and yielded no treasures; downstairs, in the basement, there were a number of large art pieces, probably from the seventies', and lots and lots and lots of dust and dirt. In a cedar chest, I found a large manila envelope with sheaves of writing paper sticking out, labelled "Children's Drawings" in brisk, large cursive script. I bought that and a metal ice tray from the fifties' for $2, and called it a day.

When I got home, the treasures that envelope produced! I spent a good part of the afternoon trying not to sneeze and sifting through the probably 100 + pieces of paper inside.

As said before, I know I'm kind of a sucker for ephemera (see the entire Doris and Ray collection, sitting in boxes in my den), so I've tried to be good lately about not picking up mountains of other people's photos and memorabilia just because the individual and personal angle appeals to me. In this case, though, the price was right, and I can't tell you how impressed I am with these musty little pieces of paper! The mother saved drawings from all three children, but Kenny was a particularly prolific artist and I have to say I like his pictures the best. All four and five year olds scribble and scrabble out drawings, but this little guy had real talent! Above, a representative drawing from the envelope-- you've got your law men/ cops/ robbers/ cowboys and a bevy of weapon choices, all rendered in full color and carefully detailed. See the triggers on the pistols? Or the boots and hats on all three figures? Will they choose a knife or a gun as their accessory? Who knows!

This picture, which the labeling tells us is from February 7, 1946, when Kenny was five, shows a "pirate man" with beard. Again, notice the gauntlet gloves, the knife scabbarded in the pirate's belt, his Smee-style hat and striped shirt under a blue coat. Something about all of these drawings remind me more of Basquiat than first grade art class. I wonder what kind of artist he was when he grew up!

While some of the pictures are helpful explained by his mother's pencilled-in captions, others remain a mystery. This one looks like a little girl in boots, possibly in a closet? Bottles and pans and shelves...could it be a roadside knick-knack shack for selling trinkets? What are the buildings or scribbles to the left and right? I won't definitively know, but who definitively cares? These are just the most precious little drawings. I love them.

Last but not least, the "over" message in the left hand corner tells you that the back is labelled "Kenny, Age 4, Cowboy". And OH MY GOODNESS, LOOK. At the age of FOUR, the little guy has successfully shown a Tom Mix like character complete with gun holster, ten gallon hat, medallion-embellished chaps, horse, and livery. I want to try and figure out if there's a way I can manipulate these (sans Photoshop, only because I don't have it) to clean or brighten the color up a little bit and repair the tear, thus leaving me with as good a little art print as I can imagine. Wouldn't these look cool over the couch?

Well, that's my treasure for the day. There's a WHOLE lot more where that came from-- I'll try and figure out how I want to parcel these out to show you guys. If you're as interested as me, that is! What do you think? Which picture is your favorite? Do you remember having any particularly crazy pictures saved by your parents over the years to delight or mortify you in your adulthood? Did you find any surprise treasures this weekend? Tell!

See you tomorrow, have a great Monday!!


  1. I loooooove these! That first one especially. It could be matted and framed and look great hanging up somewhere. I totally want to see more! My Mom kept my brother's artwork....tons of it. But not mine! Not sure what the Hell that says but there you go..... : )

  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves stuff like this! Kenny was quite the talent! I wonder if grown up Ken went on to do anything in an artistic field? He certainly had the gift if these are any indication!
    As for making some great prints out of these...YES! Do it! They're THAT good! Just a hint, if you don't have photoshop you can download GIMP for free. It's basically an older version of photoshop and it's what I use all the time. I love it! ;)

  3. Well, four-year-old Kenny was a more accomplished artist than I've ever been. I'm going to take a moment to be sad about that for a minute. OK, done. They would make totally awesome pieces for your living room. My parents are determined to leave my "sculptures" out on the bookshelf. I remember bringing home a project from art class and my mom saying, "oh, you made a weeble in a boat" and me saying, "no--the assignment was to make a viking sitting on a horse." That damn viking is still out on the bookshelf where everyone can see and my mom can tell them about how deluded I was thinking I'd made a viking and a horse when really it's a weeble in a boat. Whatever. Not that I'm bitter about it at all.

    OMG the Errol Flynn signature. Paul would have had to physically remove me from the house to keep me from writing a check. That's part of the reason I never go to estate sales by myself. Also, who would carry all the stuff I buy otherwise?



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