Favorite Things: Inherited Fingerpaintings

“Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in.”  – Amy Lowell

Many art and antique pieces found in homes are those treasures that have been passed down from generations.  Although these keepsakes and relics may not be worth much to an appraiser, they can carry meaning and historical value in a family.

April Young

In this post, Ortega resident and Designer, April Young shares her inherited fingerpaintings and why they are some of her Favorite Things.

Description of memorable piece in your art collection:

Two fingerpaintings of underwater sea life, painted in early to mid-twentieth century.

Share any background information that you may have on this item.

My Great-Grandmother, Nellie Quick, was originally from Laurinburg, NC but later moved to West Palm Beach, FL in her adult life.  Nellie was a self-taught artist who created an art studio in her home in Florida. There she fingerpainted using different parts and components of her hands including her nails and knuckles for detailing her favorite subjects; which included landscapes, gardens and sea life.

quick painting 1

Underwater Life #1

It has been said that one can decipher what kind of mood Nellie was in by her pieces. Some of her finger paintings are playful and whimsical; like in the pieces that I inherited of fish, turtles and frogs that seem to frolic and dance within their underwater habitats.  In her other works are dark hues of purples, blues and blacks which lack much color in the subject of trees and gloomy flowers; perhaps painted in her not so good days.

Underwater life #2

Underwater life #2

Nellie wanted to share her talent with others, so she later taught fingerpainting lessons in West Palm Beach.

If I could guess, just like many of artists, she never would have guessed that her artwork would be hanging in so many homes scattered around the country.

When did you acquire these pieces?

After my grandparents died, we were cleaning out their house in Richmond, VA, and we discovered my great-grandmother’s paintings in a book that had been stowed away for decades.  My parents later had several of them professionally framed and gave them as Christmas presents to each of my siblings and myself in 2010.

How have you used or displayed these pieces?

I keep one in my son’s room and the other in my daughter’s room, although I am known to move things around a lot in my home.

Why is this piece special to you?

I never met my Great-Grandmother Nellie, but I am told she was a sweet, loving and nurturing lady who raised three girls, including my grandmother, Gracie.  She passed down several characteristics of her own personality, including the passion for cooking, hospitality and creativity. Her childlike expression of art is now a staple in my home and I hope will remain in my family for many generations.

Nellie Quick with her three daughters.

Nellie Quick with her three daughters.

Please share your involvement with or connection to the Women’s Board at Wolfson Children’s Hospital?

This is my third year volunteering with the Art & Antique Show.  I serve on the Young Collector’s Booth committee and assist in writing for the group.

What are you looking foward to most about the 2013 Art & Antique Show?

I am really looking forward to our guest speakers this year, especially James Farmer who will hopefully have a special presence at the Young Collector’s Booth.  I also am very excited to see what the dealers bring and offer to young audiences who are just starting to collect.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us about yourself or your collection?

As a designer and collector, I am inspired by the history of objects of art, furnishings, and decorative items that can add to or enhance an interior.  Each one-of-a-kind object should tell a story and create a dialogue between its space and those who are inhabiting that space in a moment.  I like to tell clients to hold out for that special item that really will make an impact in their environment and hold more meaning in the long term.   The Art & Antique show is a great place to find those items!


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