COMMENTS BY CLARK KELLY PRICE About his painting of Mary Murray Murdoch (Wee Granny)

I have known about Wee Granny for a long time. I knew that my great great grandfather, James Steele and his wife, Elizabeth Wylie, visited with John Murray Murdoch and his wife, Ann Steele, who was James's sister, and introduced the gospel to them. I have always felt very close to James and Elizabeth and with their missionary connection to the Murdoch's, I have likewise felt a closeness to them. Since Wee Granny came with James and Elizabeth and their family from Scotland and was part of their party in crossing the plains with the Martin Handcart Company, I have especially admired her.

I had a lot of help as I attempted to portray her in the painting. I examined very closely the pictures of her daughters that were in your Murdoch books. I had several pictures sent to me that portrayed family members. They were helpful, especially one that portrayed a daughter of John Murray Murdoch. I felt a great strength from the fasting and prayers of the Murdoch's as well as the fasting and prayers that my wife Irene and I offered. We asked the Lord to bless me that I would know how best to portray her.

As I started to draw her, she came together very easily. I generally have a hard time portraying women but when she came so easily, I felt I was on the right track and had a very good feeling about her. I can't say I had a vision or actual knowledge of her appearance, but I felt I was blessed by the Lord because of everyone's fasting and prayers.

A few years ago, our stake had a 3 day handcart experience. We built one and pushed and pulled it over difficult terrain. To make the trek more realistic, we went with minimal food. Although it was very difficult going, and I had to use crutches part of the way because of my bad hip, I gained some important spiritual insights through that experience and I think they helped me in doing the painting.

I prayed about who should be in the scene and I felt good about who I portrayed. I felt impressed that I should show the other handcarts in the distance, and that because of Wee Granny's difficulties, her group was left behind and were the last of her company. I also attempted to show that the weather was hot and dry and that it was late in the fall. I took great pains to show the struggle of those who were with her, both in their faces and in the clothing they wore. I took some liberty with the placement of Chimney Rock and also the bluffs, but I wanted them to be prominent landmarks in the scene. The trail was on the north side of Chimney Rock and she died some miles east of it, about 4:00 in the afternoon, facing toward Zion or toward the west. That is why James is shading her face from the late afternoon sun. That is also why she could say, "Tell John I died with my face toward Zion". The scene portrayed what I come to know about the circumstances of her death and it received a confirmation of the spirit.

(edited by Dallas Murdoch)


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