Once Upon a Childhood by Kelly Schamberger

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Kelly Schamberger

Once Upon a Childhood


60.96 x 85.09 cm | 24 x 33 1/2 in

Oil on panel

  • FWSD 2023 Award

This work is on loan from a private collection.

When someone passes away, we begin to remember all the things... the little flashes of memory tucked neatly away in the back of the mind... the majestic ship on the shelf, the lightning bugs twinkling around in the warm Indiana sky... all the things. My Uncle Bill left me with a whole lot of beautiful memories, really joyful snapshots of a childhood - where riding on the back of his motorcycle and picking green beans on the farm were the highlight of long car trips to visit Bebe and Grandpa. And all of those sweet memories were wrapped neatly in my heart until March of 2020.

I thought I had dreamed of the ship. I only remember going inside my Uncle's house once - we always went on adventures elsewhere. But when my Aunt asked about distributing his possessions and I saw "ships" on the list, I knew there was one thing I really wanted. I didn't know then that he built each one, assembling thousands of tiny pieces in painstaking accuracy. As I painted this, I saw all the tiny knots, the perfectly assembled miniature wooden planks, the labor of love. I thought about the hours invested, the obsession it would take to build not one, but many, of these ships that filled his home. I wondered about his life, all the things I never knew about him, and meditated on the memories of an amazing Uncle who took me to magical places. This painting was hard to paint, many tears, many memories, many breaks to collect myself so as not to worry my studio mates... but in the end, it is a painting filled with all the love of my heart, all the joy of my mind, and all of the gratitude in the world for a person who meant so much to me.