The Namesake

“The Namesake,” Acrylic Monotype by Stephanie Khattak. 12 X 18 on paper.

This monotype print is taken from a vintage East Texas photo of my maternal great-grandmother’s grandmother, Ann. There have been Ann’s in the family ever since, including me. My father’s sister is also an Ann, so the name does double-duty for both sides of the family.

Elizabeth “Ann” was born in 1858 and died in 1948, so of course there aren’t many people left in my family who have direct memories of her. But she’s the originator of the “Panther Tales” that have been told to my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and me, and everyone remembers those. When she was young and living on Renfro Prairie in East Texas, it seemed like there was a panther behind every tree, waiting to slash someone. She’s kept generations scared straight for a hundred years – none of us ever went far into the woods, and as we still occasionally hear panthers scream in the night there, we are right to stay away!

East Texas Lumbermen

Painted acrylic gel plate. Stephanie Khattak.
Detail shot, work in progress. Southern Pines Lumberman Team, 1930s. Acrylic monoprint, Stephanie Khattak.
Desktop view, work in progress. Southern Pines Lumberman Team, 1930s. Acrylic monoprint, Stephanie Khattak.

This work in progress is of a logging team, part of the Southern Pines Lumber Co. in the 1930s. The image was pulled from the Diboll History Center, Durham family photo collection. My great-great uncle (my father’s great-uncle) worked on this team and is in this photo, something I didn’t learn until I started to research the image.

This was not a branch of the family tree that I was close to, so learning more about them, and their place in history, has been interesting and a nice surprise.

An image this large and detailed required not only my 16X20 plate (aka Big Betsy), but also a bit of my 8X10 plate to extend the edges. This is the largest and most difficult piece I have attempted in terms of balancing aesthetics, details and expediency so that I can pull the print before the paint dries. It is pretty abstract (keeping with my artistic style) but I wanted to make sure that the horses mostly looked like horses and that the large trees came through.

One reason the source image is so striking is the size of the cut trees against the horses and workmen. When I post the final, I will link to it so you can see for yourself. It’s pretty cool, and there are many other photos in the collection that I want to work from.

Cass County, Linden, TX

Cass County Annex, Linden, Texas. Acrylic monoprint by Stephanie Khattak.

In November, we took a day trip through East Texas to celebrate my husband’s birthday. We had hoped to go to New York, but life had other plans for us (and everyone else in the world!) I, of course, am very familiar with East Texas, even this northern route that we took, as I was a reporter in Marshall briefly in the early aughts. Caddo Lake, Jefferson and city government were my beats, so I spent a lot of time on these roads. But after I moved back to Dallas, I never went back there, so a lot of it was still new to me. And, of course, much has changed over the past twenty years.

On our trip, we began in Mount Pleasant and ended in Marshall, just as the sun was setting over its beautiful courthouse. In between, at the proverbial “magic hour,” we found ourselves in Linden, Cass County. The great thing about the “magic hour” is that it makes everything look, well, magic. Courthouses are stately and busy downtown squares are vibrant largely on their own. But when a certain kind of evening light shines, it can even make a simple civic building into a thing of beauty.

Outside of the Beauty Shop

These are the final prints from the third piece in my Pine Curtain Stories project. They feature my father and my aunt, most likely in the 1960s. They’re standing outside my grandmother’s beauty shop, a business addition to their home.

My favorite parts of these prints are my aunt’s pink purse and the dog that my dad is holding, a chihuahua named Pinky who lived long enough to emerge from under my grandmother’s couch and glower at me when I was a baby in the 70s. With the styling of the print, this Pinky looks more like Poncho, a long-haired chihuahua who my dad is probably at home holding right now.

There are subtle differences in the print, and I only added gold leaf to one. The other, I “shined up” with metallic, iridescent and inference acrylics.

“Outside the Beauty Shop, 1/2” by Stephanie Khattak.
“Outside the Beauty Shop, 2/2” by Stephanie Khattak.
Detail shot of dog.