The Art of Running, Part VI – Three Generations on the Run

He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” St. Francis of Assisi

This sixth post in the Art of Running series is personal. It is a collage created by an artist who is very close to me. Aunt JoAnne is an accomplished artist who has traveled widely and called New Jersey, Virginia, Bermuda and County Monahgan, Ireland her home.

JoAnne put her talents to work and translated my passion for running and family into the college below. Only an artistic mind would be creative enough to use clippings from articles I’d published and photographs of some of my races to depict three generations of runners—my grandson, son and myself. Book Cover - Brite

The collage is only one of JoAnne’s creations. Her paintings span genres and mediums that include portraits and landscapes, houses and lighthouses, still life and livestock. She works from real life or photographs and uses pastels, charcoal, conte and acrylics. She has many years experience in water colors, therefore her acrylics do not have the harshness to them that acrylics seem to generate.

JoAnne’s work has been exhibited internationally including: Armagh Museum in Armagh, Northern Ireland; Mister Deeries in Monaghan, Republic of Ireland; Cavan Hospital, Cavan the Reboblic of Ireland; City Hall in the country of Bermuda where she was showing with the Bermuda Society of the Arts and the International Women’s Club of Bermuda; The Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia (USA), The D’Art Center in Norfolk, Virginia (USA), and the Seawall Art Festival, Portsmouth, Virginia (USA).

Having an aunt who is an artist has been helpful to me in ways I never imagined. When I decided to switch professions and pursue freelance writing, she advised met to join a writer’s workshop. At the time, I didn’t even know what a writer’s workshop was, but joining the Bucks County Writer’s Workshop has been the single most helpful thing I’ve done for my writing development. The workshop has been to writing what the training program I followed to qualify for the Boston Marathon was for my running.

I’d been a long distance runner my entire life, but if I hadn’t taken up hill training and intervals, there is no way I would have run that qualifying race at the age of fifty. Similarly, writing has been a large part of my profession for the past twenty-five years, most of it writing industry reports and analysis, but if I hadn’t joined the workshop and become friends with fellow-writers who critique my work, give me suggestions and encourage me, I never would have created a manuscript that a publisher is willing to publish.

Stop sometime and think about the people who gave you advice and helped you along the way. It may not be the most obvious person, a parent, teacher or counselor; it might just be a friend, neighbor, co-worker or distant relative. Whoever it was deserves your gratitude. When Twenty-four Years to Boston is published later this year, I will have Aunt Jo and the writer’s at Bucks County Writer’s Workshop to thank. And then there is that one person that wasn’t as obvious to me–Aunt JoAnne’s husband, Uncle Mike. When I was a young father raising four children, working insane hours, traveling on business, and going to school at night to get my degree, it was Uncle Mike who’d take me out in his sailboat and counsel me, encourage me and recharge my batteries. If it weren’t for Uncle Mike I don’t know if I ever would have finished my studies. Just so many people to thank.


About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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5 Responses to The Art of Running, Part VI – Three Generations on the Run

  1. Sophie33 says:

    What a passion you all have! Great!


  2. This is such a great collage Jim, such a great tribute to you and your family and your shared experience and passion.

    It’s funny. A friend of mine is creating some artwork around a trip my husband and I made in India last year. She sent me a first sketch yesterday and I love it, am itching to share it but will wait till she’s finished. How cool is to to know a talented person who can turn something you’ve done – running for you, and in my case walking – into a work of art?! We are lucky to know such people!


    • Jim Brennan says:

      Lucky we are, Deborah. Aunt Jo carries a pad and pencil around with her and sketches life scenes, people sitting across from her on the train, a child kicking a ball, etc. Jeez, I wish, I wish, I wish. I recall reading about you and your husband’s trek across India. You’ll have to post the sketch when it’s done, I’m sure it will be a knock out. Stay well, jim


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