Garnet Ross Cousins (foreground) in art school

Artistic Heritage


Young Artist

My Grandfather's Sketchbook

Private Collections
Mural Archives
Maine Murals

Digital Prints
Offset Prints



It is said that artistic talent is inherited, and I believe this is true. On both sides of my family, there were artists. My mother's father, Garnet Ross Cousins, was a largely self-taught commercial artist from Toronto, Canada, who moved his family to Detroit, Michigan, to do advertising art. He illustrated the latest car models (cadillacs, pontiacs, oldsmobiles, etc.) for magazine and newspaper ads, a demanding skill that has since been replaced by photography. I never met my grandpa Cousins because he died of a cerebral hemorrhage when my mother was only fourteen years old. When my parents began to break up our family home in the late 1970's, I received grandpa Cousins' sketchbook as an inheritance. This sketchbook dates from 1910, and I have recently had it digitally recorded for personal as well as historical purposes. You are welcomed to view my grandfather's sketchbook here

My step-uncle, Beverly Ross Cousins, followed in his father's footsteps as a commercial artist. Uncle Ross was self-taught and continued his father's artistic tradition of illustrating new model automobiles for newspaper and magazine ads. Uncle Ross was a temperamental man who customarily did not like being disturbed, especially while working. Nevertheless, in later years I did have the privilege of watching him work in his basement studio. Lodged in a comfy chair, leaning over his small drafting tabke, he would draw, paint, and airbrush an automobile into life. His only reference was a small, colored slide that was taped to his magnifying light. Watching him work convinced me that this was not the kind of art I wanted to pursue.

My mother, Minnie Louisa; Cousins Town, was a talented artist, also; but because of her father's early death, she was forced to enter the work place. Instead of attending art school as she had planned, my mother took a job as a seamstress. During WWII she made parachutes. After the war ended, mother continued to perfect her art as a seamstress, providing custom alterations and millinery work for wealthy clients, including many car executives' wives like Mrs. Dodge. Mother became expert in her work. After marrying, she transfered her sewing skills for the needs of her family. She made all our clothes (hand-knit sweaters, socks, hats, mittens, and gloves included), neckties for my dad, draperies, bedspreads, and upholstery for the family furniture. She also recycled old clothes and turned them into new ones. Mom had the inate ability to create without a pattern. She could look at something once and then go home and make it. With a doubt, she possessed talent beyond her knowledge or recognition. Mother was faithful to teach us children (including my brother) how to sew, knit, crochet, and embroider. Sadly, her many pencil drawings from high school were thoughtlessly tossed away during one of our family moves. Nevertheless, I inherited the one and only painting Mom did later in life.
It can be viewed

My paternal grandmother, Mabel Patterson Town, was an art teacher. She used her talents to teach young people how to draw and paint. Though she was not what I consider exceptionally talented, she enjoyed her art and blessed others with it. I especially remember several collages that Grandma made. They decorated the walls of the Town cottage in Port Lambton, Canada. She liked to combine sea shells and fan corals on a painted background, framing them in a shadow-box style. Her decorative approach was effective, especially as decorations for a summer cottage.

Though I have three siblings, I am the only child in my family who pursued art as a career. Both my sisters are artistic but not in a professional sense. They sew and enjoy the decorative arts. As a teenager, my older sister took painting lessons and did remarkably well. Though she exhibited talent, she chose to pursue a career in nursing.