New 30’s Inspired Painting

    I finished this painting last week, and my plan is to take it with my to showcase as the RAW Natural Born Artists show at the end of the month. The inspiration for this piece is here— my home— where my great-grandmothers were young women in the teens, twenties and thirties, enjoying fashion and music and pop culture through the lens of living out on the plains of Oklahoma, where oil derricks and endless rows of telegraph lines dotted the landscape.

   I thought it was important too to show some young women who were not the blue eyed, blond haired white girl stereotype of the era. There were lots of different girls of different races, colors, mixes and backgrounds who made their mark on the past. The idea for this piece was sort of a mash-up of old photos of my great-grandma Pansy and her friends standing by a dusty road and field in the late 20s wearing the most glamorous coats as well as the girls who went to a local Indian school and photos I had seen of them.

   An interesting bit of trivia is— the grounds of my old high school were once the grounds of an Indian mission school.  Students from several tribes would come into town and go to school there until they were integrated in the 1940s. Some of the students were full blood, some mixed blood, some Cherokee, some Creek, some Euchee, some Muskogee. When I worked at the local paper I remember pouring over old photos from the Mission School, the girls with their glossy dark hair tied back in big ribbons in their ‘modern’ basketball uniforms (rumor was, those girls were good ball players!) All these little sparks of ideas have come together to make this painting…

I hope you like it! I haven’t yet decided on a title. I wanted to make three very distinct girls with their own look, but still very much the look of their era. And I love the look of old varsity sweaters! And although I look at this painting with a certain preconceived idea, that doesn’t mean its right. These girls with their different complexions and features could be from a variety of backgrounds. It’s up to the viewer to give them their story. That’s the fun of my painting. It means something unique to everyone!

If you’d like to see this piece and several others in person, you can see them at the RAW show on June 21st in Tulsa, Okla. I still have a lot of tickets to sell, and so I would love to sell you one! You just go online and order your ticket and select me (Heather Sleightholm) as your artist. I’d love to see you  there!

6 thoughts on “New 30’s Inspired Painting

  1. These girls remind me of my high school era in the early 1960s! The history behind your high school location is vey interesting too. I really love how you pulled all of those thoughts together in this sweet painting!


  2. I just love this painting Heather!!! Something about it really strikes a chord with me. Maybe its the subject matter, great story behind it (as mostly all of your paintings do!!)Or maybe its the style clothing…..or BOTH!! Looks like your time in the Ozarks was nice too.


  3. Love this piece Heather! I love how you incorporated the different skin colours and hair. I must admit I tend to be partial to redheads with my art. What an incredible story as well. Up here and Canada one of the darkest chapters of our history is the Native Residential Schooling system, which endured until the 80s. I know there are similar stories in the United States as well. Very interesting subject matter. Really displays the beauty of these girls so well 🙂


  4. This is such an endearingly lovely painting. I adore the distinct styles you gave to each lass, as well as their beautiful vintage sweaters (another varsity sweater fan here). Your work is splendid, and I'm delighted that you visited my blog (Chronically Vintage) so that I could in turn discover your blog and marvelous work.♥ Jessica


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