In 1974, shortly after moving to Rock Hill, my husband and I decided to attend the Rock Hill Artists Guild Art Auction. We found a small table and before long were joined by a charming couple. We had no idea at the time who Vernon and Libby Grant were other than very friendly folks and we struck up a conversation.
During the evening‘s festivities, I was invited to join a small group of artists who gathered at Vernon Grant‘s studio for weekly lessons and critiques of their work. There was no way I was going to pass up that opportunity even though I would be out of my league with artists like Dina Mohler and Gatewood Roddy Kistler.
The following week, off I went with a pathetic little drawing to set on Vernon‘s easel. It was a very intimidating moment. The easel was huge and the drawing was so small it barely showed up, which was a good thing. He studied it and tried to think of something kind to say. After a long pause, he said, ―Well – let‘s start with some basic drawing lessons. You can bring me what you have next week and we‘ll go from there.‖ And go from there we did.
Each week as I walked in the door to his studio, the smell of pipe tobacco filled the room and he seemed larger than life sitting in his chair, paints and brushes lining the table by the window, his current artwork on the easel. He greeted us with his wonderful smile and great warm personality. The stories he shared revealed so much of his early years and his life as an artist in New York.
After teaching me the basics of drawing, he suggested I try adding some watercolors. Each week, I would bring in a watercolor, set it on his easel and wait for his comments. Once I brought in a design I was excited about and he called his wife, Libby, to come see my work. That was my proudest moment and I felt like dancing out of the room.
I cherish those years I spent as his student and will always remember how he embraced childhood and celebrated with his art the fanciful imaginations of the young. Opening the Main Street Children‘s Museum brought to life his wonderful world of fantasy. What better world for children to explore than the magical world of Vernon Grant!
- Barbara Davis, MSCM volunteer