I’m going to start a new feature on my blog. I’m not sure how regular it will be but I want it to act as a counter point to my Happy Places blog posts about settings that inspire me. I’d like to discuss people, past and present, specific and general, who have inspired me to live a creative life.
And the first person I’m going to feature is a man whom I’ve never met, yet whom I’m directly descended from, my grandfather, Garreth J. Rynhart.
Garreth was born in Holland and emigrated to the U.S. in 1914. He received his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in the early 1920s. While at university, he decided he was going to develop a way to live by his brush. With this goal in mind, he trained himself to paint very quickly.
He traveled all over Western Canada (his country of adoption) and the Western U.S. He hiked over different landscapes with his trusty binoculars and made sketches in his book. During the Great Depression, Garreth was actually well off because of his ability to “mass produce” paintings cheaply. Painting on nothing but thick cardboard for canvasses and making his own frames, he sold 2 paintings for $5. Many times, during this time, he couldn’t keep up with is orders, even spending just 5-10 minutes painting works like the one you see below (12 x 24 “)
Garreth produced so many pictures during his lifetime that they can still be found in older homes, established businesses, antique stores and online venues such as ebay (where I purchased one of them) and Etsy (where I purchased another!)These photographs only represent one of his signature styles, the monochromatic “sepia” style. He also had a plein-air style and painted bigger pictures on canvas which, naturally were more expensive to produce and came at a higher price tag.
Garreth was well known for his speed painting and attracted a lot of attention by painting in store windows and at amusement parks, such as the early Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland, where people were so excited to get their hands on his work, they carried the paintings home still wet.
Tragically, Garreth suffered from diabetes, which robbed him of his eyesight, therefore curtailing his artistic career. But by then, he had already taught his beloved wife to paint. She is another very inspiring story that I will share at another time.My grandfather’s story has inspired me on my creative journey. He’s taught me never to give up on my dreams, to find a way to persevere and make it work. Though I never met him, I will always be grateful for the legacy he left me.