Thursday’s Treasures – My Grandmother’s Paintings

These are two of my most valued possessions, oils painted by Mabel Austin Gibson:

Country Lane oil by Mabel Austin Gibson

Deer in Woods oil by Mabel Austin Gibson

My paternal grandmother was a talented artist. I have a few books and sketches from her youth which show early artistic talent. But it wasn’t until after her children were all grown that she took a class in oils and began oil painting. She would never sell them; they were like children to her. Occasionally she would gift one of her treasures to a family member or close friend. When she died, we made sure that every member of my generation had at least one of her paintings.

My dad has two very large paintings, birches and fall colors (two of her favorite themes) and another painting of the Little Church, near where she lived and where I spent my first 10 years. Every year she would send out personally sketched Christmas cards to family and friends. I wish I had realized as a teen how precious her cards would be to me, because I would have saved them all. I do have many saved, though. Here are just a few (some of which I can see I need to return to my brother, as they are addressed to him!):

rabbit sketch by Mabel Austin Gibson

Rabbit Easter card by Mabel Austin Gibson

cat halloween card by Mabel Austin Gibson

Cat Halloween card by Mabel Austin Gibson

Robin Christmas card by Mabel Austin Gibson

Robin Christmas card by Mabel Austin Gibson

Pony Christmas card by Mabel Austin Gibson

Hall New York church program sketch by Mabel Austin Gibson

Hall New York church program sketch by Mabel Austin Gibson

This is the Union Congregational United Church of Christ church in Hall New York where my parents were married. Mabel sketched the church, which graced their program cover for many years (and possibly still does).

And here is a picture of my Grammy and me at my wedding in July, 1979:

Mabel and Karen at Karen's wedding

**Thursday’s Treasures highlights the small things that make my life a good life. It may be an item, it might be a book, it could be a song; whatever it is, it makes me smile and is therefore worth treasuring.


  1. Kelly

    I got tears in my eyes reading this post. She was a beautiful artist. Several people have told me I should be drawing/painting the Christmas cards each year.
    It seems your grandma and I have the same taste. I LOVE fall woods and birch trees. I’ve painted several and purchased a birch painting that is in my front hall way.

    • Colleen

      I am SO glad you posted that goose picture, Kel. I’ve taken the day going through an old box of my grandmother’s “stuff” that I’ve saved since she died 23 years ago. Every sketch, card, piece of whatnot that had a picture on it, I have scanned and saved. I even found penciled flowers on tissue paper that I’ve ironed out and scanned. I wish I had more than what’s in that one box, but it’s a treasure trove of sketches, a couple of oils, field notes (she was a birder), a couple of diaries, some family pictures I’d forgotten all about, even high school and college certificates! Not at all what I planned to do today, but infinitely more important!

  2. Carol

    These are so lovely and special. I’m so glad you have them, have scanned them and saved them for yourself and your family. These are such important things and now is a great time to do it. I’m doing similar things here.

    I love the cards and hope before too long I’ll be doing something similar here. I didn’t know I had it in me, but just maybe I do.

  3. Roberta

    Sniff, sniff (tissues)…

    Lovely post.

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