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Great Grandfather Inspires More Artists in Family

Ancestral Journaling

I consider doing genealogy as a form of journaling.  Especially the personal stories about our ancestors.

My great grandfather was a colorful character. He came from Dunkeld, Scotland. Among his many talents were his artistic abilities. I have read that he not only was an artist but also an interior decorator, of sorts.

The story goes that he named a son, my mother’s father, after a castle he redecorated.  Then, another version is that my grandfather was named after a small town in the Scotland highlands:  Athole

David Milne

David joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints while hanging around the shipping yards as a young man where he met two missionaries from this faith. He was attracted to them from a haunting melody one was singing, so the story goes.  He became converted and soon after set sail for America.

Since this is not his autobiography, only an excerpt on how his art influenced so many on down in his family line, including me; I won’t elaborate on much more than his art, which applies to this blog.

I have been involved in art in many ways.  My “About Page”explains my love of art way back in elementary school and a little idiosyncrasy I had back then of smelling my art paper before coloring on it.

The first time I felt the influence of David Milne is when I was painting a very large angel on a very large store window at Christmastime.  I was up on a ladder to reach the top levels of the angel and had a Christmas Card to use as a pattern of how I wanted to form this angel. 

As it turned out, my angel painting began taking on “a life of its own” and I felt my great grandfather’s influence very strong.  My painting turned out entirely different than what I had intended as well as much better!

Another “chance meeting” with David Milne came a few years later when I was passing through the little town of Hurricane in Southern Utah.  I was in no hurry and spotted an old, Victorian home for sale and stopped to look at it. I had no intention of buying but it was very intriguing to me.  

I went inside and the owner/seller was happy to show me around.  She even got the record of this home, that was registered on the historical homes records, and began reading some of its unique features.  

Imagine my utter surprise when she came to the part telling about how David Milne and Sons were the ones who did the graining in this home! Back in those olden days, it was a popular feature to have artists do a special type of painting called “graining” to paint oak-like grain over cheaper pine-wood trim to give it a richer, more expensive look.

As my hand rubbed the stair railing I felt a special connection to this grandfather whose artistic hands had worked this exact spot where my hand laid, transforming the plain pine into the look of oak.

As I said earlier, David Milne’s artistic talent has been passed down three generations now.  My sister is a very dedicated artist who previously owned and operated an art gallery, Toulouse Art Gallery, on the Big Island of Hawaii. My oldest son chose art as his major in college and his talent in art is very evident in his paintings!

To see my sister’s art go to:

I have had a custom art business, “Wild Woods”, where I did many interior walls (I call it “wall art”) in homes in Nevada, Arizona and Southern Utah.  I later began turning plain vinyl garage doors into either a copper or wood look, a popular look in Southern Utah among the high end communities.  This amuses me to see the close resemblance in doing this as to what my great grandfather once did.

I also taught Art at an elementary school in Southern Utah as well as an Assisted Living Home for Seniors.

In the summers I’ve started doing “Art Camps” for the kids in town, a very fun 4-week Camp,one day a week.

Thus, my love of paper and now, finally, the opening of my online Paper Store, Haven Paper Company.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this “look into the past” and how one generation’s talents, weaknesses and characteristics are passed down the line to the lineage following behind.


  • Diane Renchler

    Nice story and very well written, PS, my art gallery"s name was Toulouce Art Gallery and website now is:

  • Harvey Russell

    I think this blog is exquisitely done. It was interesting to read about Mary’s great grandfather and what led her to the little Victorian house where her great grandfather had painted the wood trim 100 years ago.
    To me, this is a testimony of the spiritual connections we have with our ancestors that shows there is life beyond death.

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