My whole family has given me so much encouragement over the years; I’m truly thankful.
A particular inspiration to me has been the work of the artists in my family.
F. (Frederick) Sands Brunner
My maternal great-grandfather lived from 1886 – 1954, and worked during the “Golden Age” of Illustration. Fred grew up in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. He originally aspired to be a trapper, as he loved the outdoors and wasn’t particularly fond of school or office work. But after he drew a valentine for his teacher, and received a mark of ‘200’, he began to study art. He graduated from the School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia, and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
His paintings appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, in advertisements for Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s cereal and Canada Dry Ginger Ale, on World War II Red Cross posters, and in many other similar publications. He often used his relatives as models to pose for his sketches (daughter Sybil appears on the Valentine Post cover). In addition to his commercial illustration work, Fred also painted for his own enjoyment. Portraits of his wife and two daughters were some of his favorite subjects. He also continued to love the outdoors, and painted many landscapes in the Adirondack mountains of NY.
Sybil Brunner Lofland
Fred’s daughter, my grandmother, was also an illustrator. With her father’s encouragement, she attended Moore College of Art. There, despite disliking some of the repetitive drawing exercises the students were required to complete, she became quite accomplished at figure drawing.
Sybil married and had two daughters. When the oldest girl, my mother Janet, was in third grade, Sybil began to work full-time as an illustrator. She worked in the advertising departments of several Philadelphia department stores, including Gimbels, Lit’s, and Clover, where her specialty was drawing children’s fashions. Before full-color photos in advertising circulars were the norm, illustrators were necessary to clearly depict sale items in black-and-white.
While she didn’t consider herself an artist, “only an illustrator,” Sybil painted many vibrant watercolors outside of her job. She most loved to paint her grandchildren, and fresh flower arrangements from her garden. My grandmother was one of my biggest encouragers, and until she passed away in 2006, she cheered the completion of each new painting I made.