Vincent’s sketchbook was a sort of pictorial autobiography with drawings conveying the simple, but rich life he led. During much of his lifetime, Donna encouraged him to do more in terms of pursuing a career but he chose to live life on his own terms. This picture, like the other pictures in his sketchbook, helps her to realize that he didn’t need the external recognition that so many of us quest after. He didn’t need to be a lawyer or a doctor in order to live a full life and be happy. As the big smile in this picture reveals, he was happy just painting houses. Enjoy the following short excerpt from The Bird that Sang in Color.


I turned the page to see him painting a house. He was young, and his hair was going in all directions, like a palm trees’ branches, but still not as wild as the big old head of hair he had in life. He was painting an invisible house, and his smile matched the one in his baker’s picture, but it was even bigger, reaching halfway up the profile of his face. I remembered driving around with him once as he pointed out all the houses he painted.

“We did that one too,” he said, pointing at a pale green two-story house.

“That’s beautiful,” I said, smiling at the house that had once been an ugly shade of gray, like dirt-stained white.



This post is part of my latest blog series on the artwork that inspired the family saga, The Bird that Sang in Color. The art featured in these posts comes from a sketchbook that belonged to my brother, Vincent, which I discovered shortly after his death. It had pictures he’d drawn of himself throughout various phases of his life. This pictorial autobiography caused me to wonder what pictures I’d have of myself by the end of my life, which motivated me to live more fully. In writing this novel, I was able to share this powerful realization with the world. This novel is the third book in the Greco Family Trilogy. Each one of these family trilogy books is told from a different family member’s point of view. This one is told from the perspective of the Greco family matriarch, Donna.   

Grace Mattioli is the author of the Greco Family Trilogy books, including Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees, Discovery of an Eagle, and The Bird that Sang in Color. These books are available from all major online book sellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books.