Roy Williams is the son of Mary Watson Williams, and the grandson of Homer Watson and Stuart Williams, who made many frames for Watson's late period works.
Roy recollects his personal memories of his grandfather, aunt & father.
Roy Williams (Homer's Grandson) remembers Homer's love of art and nature.
"These are memories of my grandfather, who loved nature…especially trees. I enjoyed sitting on grandpas' lap his big chair by the window in his studio. His pipes were on the window sill. If he was smoking, he would always put the pipe out before I got in his lap. I watched him paint and sometimes he would draw using a pencil. As I said, he loved trees and the large tree that was at the end of what is now a parking lot, was hit by lightening he would see that any broken branches were either removed or the ends painted. He was a very good friend of Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who visited him often. Grandpa was a wonderful man, a very quiet man and a terrific grandfather."
Roy Williams (Homer's Grandson) remembers his great aunt Phoebe.
"My Aunt Phoeb…I watched her paint cups and saucers, plates etc. She had her own kiln for curing and baking the paint. Many times I would help her install the pottery into the kiln, and of course she watched me very closely. She liked to cook and bake. My favourites were goose berry and apple jelly and of course pies! When I was older, I sometimes cut the lawn and would clean the flower beds. I even painted the front steps. On my 13th birthday, she gave me a book written by Frank E. Page, titled "Homer Watson: Artist and Man". She signed it "To Roy, with love on his 13th birthday, 1941, From Aunt Phoeb". My sister and I stayed with her many weekends when we were quite young…
Video: Roy Williams remembers his father and grandfather.
Dad was grandpa's chauffer. He drove him to many areas. Grandpa would make sketches and then dad would bring him back, and a lot of them became paintings. Dad also made many picture frames and also kept the furnace operating in winter. He also did maintenance to the house when things needed fixing or painting. One of dad's greatest moments was when grandpa introduced him to Prime Minister Mackenzie King. Mr. King gave dad some money, that dad went and used to buy a good cigarette lighter. He cherished it for years. All of these memories I cherish and always will."
Roy Williams (Homer's Grandson) remembers time spent in his grandfather's house.
"Um, I can't remember the actual age of my sister and I…I think I was probably seven or eigth…and my sister would have been nine or ten. We were here…we used to come quite often on Saturdays, on the weekends, and spend time with my aunt. And uh, one night we had gone to bed about ten o'clock, after having our bath and everything. And Aunt Phoeb got us into bed and about two or three in the morning my sister woke up screaming! And I couldn't understand why she was screaming until I looked. And my aunts' bedroom was right across the hallway from ours. She walked in her sleep one night and she used to wear a real long gown and she always let her hair down at night, which was hanging way down her back. And she came walking in towards the bedroom with her arms straight out like this, going "woo wooo woooo"! …and well I'm telling you my sister…my hair…I had more hair then…just felt like it was sticking up straight. And I got out of bed and somehow or other I seemed to know that you can't wake a person when they are sleepwalking. So I gently grabbed, just took her arm, turned her around, took her back into bed, got her laying down, covered her up and went back to bed!"
Roy Williams (Homer's Grandson) recalls the best way to view a painting.
"The best way to look at any painting, is to take a piece of newspaper or an eight by eleven note pad and fold it into the shape of a telescope, and look through it so that you do not see the frame, you only see the picture. And that way you'll see far more depth of a picture. And of course most of grandpas' paintings always looked better at a distance back. A lot of paintings, if you get right up close to them, they are not as vivid. It doesn't show, it shows more brush marks, than the actual painting that the artist is trying to depict. So naturally, standing back farther, you can appreciate it more. There are other paintings that he did do that are smaller brushwork. Those you could get right up to and see the painting, but not some of the later ones were where he used larger brush strokes."
Roy Williams (Homer's Grandson) discusses the changes in painting over time.
"Of course you have to bear in mind, in those days, they didn't have the types of paint that they have today. You know there are so many different colours, but poor grandpa, he had to mix his colours to get the shades he wanted. Where today, artists can just look at the tube, and they see the colour they want and that's it! So things have changed a lot and again, as well, the brushes have changed a lot. You've got better fiber now, and the hair doesn't fall out, the little bristles don't fall out…and I guess it just makes it that much easier for the artist."
Roy Williams (Homer's Grandson) discusses the historic frieze in Homer's studio.