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Monday, May 28, 2012

Painting Your Life in Color

I would like to introduce you to someone very special… My Mom, Eileen, was married and a mother of 4 by the time she was 26.  She and my father George had a traditional marriage with Dad going out to work and Mom raising the children.  Even though they were of different faiths, with respect, compromise and perseverance they were able to create a faith based family.

Another of their differences was that Dad was A city boy, from a loud, passionate Italian family and Mom hailed from a small country town were she was raised partly by her strict, Welsh Grandmother and Aunts.

Blonde and blue eyed Eileen loved George for his outgoing ways, deep brown eyes and wavy, black hair.  Dad in turn thought mom looked like Marilyn Monroe.  He admired her intelligence and  sense of calm.

My parents struggled financially from day one of their marriage.  Not satisfied with giving their children the same childhood they experienced.  George and Eileen sought ways to improve the lives of their family.  The four of us were sent to private school at great cost and personal sacrifice.  When they were 25 years old, they became the first of either of their families to own a home.

To add to a better life and memories for us, Mom made countless special clothes and costumes for us throughout the years.  there was a ‘Halloween’ box, where our little costumes were kept. Dress up and imaginative play were encouraged and television was not!  You could always be sure to find a stash of construction paper and glue somewhere in the house! 

Life continued in this fashion until the Balboa’s decided it was time to leave the city and relocate to a more rural part of New Jersey.  Dad was a city dweller for his entire life and they did not think it was the best place for their children to grow up. 

Our new home was on a river and surrounded by woods and farmland.  We (the teenage members of the family!) thought we might die from the horror of it!  You had to drive at least 15 minutes to go anywhere at all!

In this environment a second car was a necessity and Mom became chauffer along with cook, laundress, counselor and referee! 

During all this time my Mother seldom lost her temper.  She brought dignity and grace to our lives with her creative and resourceful ways.  she was always there for us. You could count on her and we did. When I enrolled in the local college and did not have a driver’s license, Mom drove me the half hour to and from school with detours to my part time job.  This was at a time when the gas crisis had recently had a devastating  effect on the economy and she had an additional 3 children to worry about!

As the children became older, Mom took small steps towards a life of her own, apart from her children. and so……as the last of her children were preparing to leave the nest Eileen began her first painting lessons. the studio she chose to enroll in was called The Blue House. but, painting wasn’t only colors and brushes, it was an area in which Mom could express herself creatively and that made her a better person.  As she became more involved in the arts, she developed her leadership skills and even began to delegate a little!

Mom had always had a way with color and drawing. after some lessons on technique and proper brushes, she was ready to go!

In the beginning the style she learned was called Tole painting.  A style of decorative painting using a  variety of curvy strokes to create rustic paintings with a German or Dutch influence.

Her favorite surfaces to paint on were wooden recipe boxes, peg racks and other country kitchen kinds of items.  That was about 35 years ago! since then Mom has painted with different teachers and attended many classes and seminars. 2008...09_190After moving into rural Pennsylvania, Mom became interested in having painting pals.  Her solution was to found the Pennsylvania Heartland Decorative Artists, a local chapter of a national organization.  She arranged for her groups work to be shown at nearby banks and libraries.  The decorating of Christmas trees with hand painted ornaments became a new local tradition.

After her retirement from the United States Postal Service Eileen had more time to devote to her passion.  She became of member of the local arts council.  Council members were busy with the restoration of a beautiful old theatre.  Teaching painting classes there was her main focus for many years. momdadEver moving forward Mom is ready to expand her horizons once again and is preparing to sell some of her work on etsy.  Mom’s artwork currently encompasses not only painting, but all kinds of crafts.  Vintage linens and doilies are among the materials used for her latest creations. 

I hope that I have helped you learn a little about my Mom!

Searching for a great Etsy name,



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Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense 



  1. What a great story of your Mom's life! Please do post a link to her Etsy shop when it is ready:)

    1. thank you!! it is in the works as we speak! i couldn't wait to do the post because i am so excited about the shop!


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All the best, Eileen, Donna and Laurie