Woman's Work is Never Done series
Aunt Teen on her Tractor
"Aunt Teen on her Tractor,"
This is a portrait of my Great-Aunt Teen riding the family tractor in the 1920s. I worked from a grainy, beat-up old snapshot, one of my favorites showing a hard-working farm woman.
At first, I thought I would add color, but my preliminary colorized sketch seemed robbed of its dignity. So I decided that I would keep the monochrome, but enliven it by using the full range of Prismacolor’s cool, warm, and French grays to warm up the foreground, push back the fields and hills and add a hint of local color to her skin and clothing.
I love the way it turned out! It inspired a new series in the same style “Woman’s Work is Never Done.”
Aurelia Elliott Johns
Aunt "Teen"'s real name was Aurelia Elliott Johns. No one knows the origin of her nickname, but it stuck with her for life within the family. The Elliott's were my mom's maternal ancestors, who lived in a small town (now even tinier) called Hammondsville in southeastern Ohio. Teen stayed on the farm longer than her sisters and worked right alongside the men. After my grandfather was severely burned when his steam tractor broke though a wooden bridge, Teen's help was critical in keeping the farm going. Presumbably, the tractor in this picture was the replacement bought for the wrecked steam engine.
Teen later worked as a telephone operator at Copperweld Steel in Warren, Ohio and finished up her working life as a switchboard operator at the NASA Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. She went from driving oxen to helping to "drive" the first humans to the moon! What a time to be alive!