Prussian Blue

I have done some new work on the sunny chair picture.  In it, I use liberally a color known as Indigo Blue.  I use that color a lot, never sure why.  I often use it in place of black, because it make a picture more interesting, IMO.


But last night, coming home from work, I glanced at the dusky sky.  It was past sunset, and almost all of the light had drained from the sky.  I looked at the color of the sky, and thought, “Prussian Blue’, which was my Dad’s favorite color, and similar to indigo blue.  Maybe that’s the root of my love of that color.

Yesterday, a number of incidents reminded me of my father.  A man stopped by the store who had a familiar accent.  It turned out he was from Chicago.  As I was arranging pastries later, I noticed we had a lot of prune danish, my Dad’s favorite.

My father left his childhood home when has was only thirteen, with only an eighth grade education.  He rode the rails as a hobo for a time, and in later years, remembered those times fondly.

Eventually he ended up in Chicago.  He was a swimmer, and spent summers as a lifeguard on Lake Michigan.  There he met Johnny Weissmuller, an Olympic medal winner, who was best known for his portrayal of Tarzan in the movies.  However, my Dad was friends more with Johnny’s brother Pete.

They were all on a swim team back then.  There was another good swimmer that they were considering, but decided he was too young.  That swimmer eventually became a movie star as well, and eventually President of the United States.  His name was Ronald Reagan.

I get the impression that most of the time in Chicago, my father lived a rowdy life, brawling, drinking and carousing with women.  Since his first name was Ellwin,can you blame him?

Because of his defined swimmer’s body, during the winter he posed as a nearly nude model at the Art Institute of Chicago.  There, he decided he wanted to become an artist.  Someone told him flatly no, he’d never be an artist.  This only made my Dad more determined.

He eventually came to New York City, because that’s where most commercial art was.  His best client was a famous shirt company, and he spent his days meticulously coping the prints on the shirts into illustrations.  He was well paid for this.

In fact, he was able to live a great lifestyle, expensive vacations, and buying extravagant gifts for my mother.  This all came to an end when the shirt company decided to use photographs, instead, and I grew up in financially strapped family.

I never knew much about my Dad’s family.  He cut all ties.  I know he had a sister, Dorothy, who ran off to follow the evangelist Amy Semple Macpherson.  I think he had a brother Curtis, who lived in Florida.  It’s mostly a mystery.  Whenever I hear of someone with the last name Baldwin, I always wonder….


Here’s a very bad photograph of a painting my father did.  It’s his work of social commentary’; a protest of nuclear weapons.  And yes, in the background, he used Prussian Blue.



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