Sunday, June 07, 2009

Hitsy Parnell had in fact gained what is known as the freshman 15 but neither Vickie Lowe nor Adelaide Kilgrow were going to be the ones to tell her.


I was in the mood to do some 1960s style paintings so I pulled out my 1968 yearbook from the University of Alabama (purchased several years ago at a yard sale). I picked people at random to sketch, either because I liked their look, their name or both. Who couldn't love the name Hitsy Parnell and she was such a stylish looking girl! I just had to sketch her and center a painting based on her. Usually I pull a lot of inspiration from the late 1920s and early 1930s so those people are most likely gone. For some reason I felt compelled to type Hitsy's name into Google tonight and found that she competed in the Miss USA pageant in 1968 and made it to the top 15! Then I searched a bit more and came across her obituary. It struck me that I had sort of made fun of her in my painting but it seemed from the wonderful things written about her, that she probably would have had a great sense of humor and would know that I didn't do it in a mean sense. After learning more about her, I will probably want to paint her again. Hitsy was born Wilhelmina Muckelrath Parnell on December 28, 1948, in Grove Hill. She passed away on February 2, 2007 after a long battle with cancer. This painting is for you, Hitsy.

15 comments:

Cara said...

What a fantastic story!!! Makes me love that painting even more!!

vivienne strauss said...

thank you Cara!

Elizabeth Bauman said...

If I were Hitsy, I'd love that someone painted this of me. :)

Kate Gabrielle said...

oh, how sweet and sad Vivienne.
Like Cara said, I love the paining even more now!

vivienne strauss said...

thank you Elizabeth & Kate :)

Mathyld / encore petite said...

I love the fact that there is an actual Hitsy behind "your" Hitsy. And I'm pretty sure she'd be very flattered, and amused. With the painting and the fact that you wonder about her.
Most of the artists try to get "rid of" their inspirations. And to make us think that everything is of their own invention.
This is very touching and gives an even more precious angle to the painting.
So, thank you for sharing, Vivienne.

x x x
___mathyld___

vivienne strauss said...

thank you Mathyld :) I'm working on another Hitsy painting right now with her dog, Bonnie Louise.

Linda Crispell said...

I am changing my name, so one day when I'm long gone a cool, talented artist will immortalize me in a painting. I love your painting, the story, and even Hitsy's odd middle name.
Your Pal,
Poopsy?

vivienne strauss said...

Linda - I don't think you should have to wait until you're gone to be immortalized... I'll keep you posted Poopsy :D

Brett said...

My mom would have loved your pics, she was the coolest lady with a great sense of humor. I miss her every day, keep em coming, love to see the work of her. I can get you more pics of her if you'd like.

Josh said...

Vivienne,

You chose an outstanding woman, mother and friend to many to paint. She is missed by many and your painting means much to me and my family! I would be happy to share stories, pictures and memories of my mother with you anytime. She meant the world to me...

Josh

vivienne strauss said...

Wow, Brett, when I painted these portraits I never thought in a million years I would be hearing from people who knew the real Hitsy. I am so glad she would have liked to be remembered with a sense of fun. I would love to see more pictures of her and anything you would like to share about her. You can email me at vivstrauss@gmail.com

vivienne strauss said...

Hi Josh,

Thank you so much, please, I do hope both you and Brett would email and share your stories and photos. I am deeply touched just from what I've heard from you both today. vivstrauss@gmailcom

Sug said...

I had the honor of being in Hitsy's Alpha Gam pledge class at the University of Alabama. She was such a great friend and was loved by many. After her funeral we decided to have a reunion of the pledge class in her honor. Now, 6 years later, we are getting ready to have our annual Hitsy reunion. We have also donated to name a room in her memory at the new AGD house. Another member of the class found your site about Hitsy and passed it on the rest of us. We have all loved it. Thank you for honoring Hitsy and bringing us all wonderful memories of such an old friend. Sug

Sug said...
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