My sisters and I were compiling a list of the comments our mother repeated to us during the years. I remember Mother stating many times, “Life is not fair,” but that did not make the cut. Some bits of wisdom which did make it are as follows:
Stand up straight
Make the best of what you have
Ask people their names and use them
Always notice something nice about people
Wear your pretty things
Wear your pretty things. I remember Mother also saying:
Use your good things
For people of a certain age, that may mean using the silverware, china, and crystal received as wedding gifts. I try to do that, even though it must be washed by hand.
For a long time, I tried to save money on art materials and equipment. After painting for a while, I eventually splurged on a plein air easel, began using professional grade paints, and discover how much easier it is to paint on a quality substrate. But I was slacking on my brushes.
A year ago, I had an opportunity to purchase Rosemary brushes at a convention. Everyone in my studio had them and talked about how great they were. So I bought some. Took them home. Put them in a nice container and looked at them, thinking I would save them for a “good” painting.
What was I thinking?
How was I to know when the “good” painting was about to happen?
What if they were lost during a plein air event?
It took six months to get the courage to use them, and that was only because a workshop instructor used them almost exclusively. Hey, if I want to make great paintings too, shouldn’t I use the same brushes? So I dipped those Rosemarys in paint, put them to canvas, and was hugely surprised at what a joy they were to use and how much easier it was to paint with them. Why had I waited so long?
My painting, Faith, portrays Fr. Pat Mascarella seated at St. Joseph’s Cathedral with his service dog, Pace. I used a photo taken by a friend attending a service in the cathedral. A collector purchased the original at an exhibit at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol and contacted me to see if I would have prints available (yes!) because a family member was interested in purchasing several.
After a few weeks of missed connections, I was finally able to deliver the prints and meet Pace. He is a large dog who had completed ten years of service and was about to retire when he was adopted by a member of Fr. Pat’s family. Pace allowed me to pet him even though I am sure he could smell my three cats.
Later in the day, my friend who took the picture I used stopped by my studio. I told her about meeting the service dog, and she told me about attending the anointing of the sick service with a friend who had been ill. Fr. Pat came in, sat in the front pew, and in the aisle was Pace, so calm and peaceful. She thought it was a great photo opportunity.
What a coincidence these two meetings took place on the same day. Making this painting was an emotional experience; it was hard to hold back the tears when painting Pace. I was worried he did not understand where his companion was. After meeting Pace, I felt that he knew exactly where Fr. Pat was, in heaven.
Maggie Mae was the beloved pet of my friend, Kathy. She was, according to her Human, a “special needs” child, requiring shots twice a day for diabetes. In addition, Maggie Mae was allergic to grass. Kathy never used the word, “dog,” when speaking of Maggie Mae. She was a member of the family.
After a long life, Maggie Mae finally crossed the rainbow bridge, leaving a vacant space in her mamma’s life. For years Kathy talked about owning one of my paintings with zinnias. (Southern women have a thing for zinnias, but that is a topic for another day.) But for now, she needed a painting of her Maggie Mae.
Kathy sent dozens of photos for me to use. In the picture I primarily used, Maggie Mae appeared to be smiling, something I imagine she did frequently. The painting came together easily but needed one extra element–a zinnia for Kathy.
When the painting shipped, I texted Kathy that I wish I could be there when she opened it. So she did the next best thing and made a video. It was truly emotional.
We have our fur babies for a short while, but memories for a lifetime.
My work will be hanging around several venues this month…
Louisiana-You Inspire Me
March 12-April 26, 2019
Associated Women in the Arts will exhibit work at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, 100 North Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70801 Reception March 14, 2019 5:30-7:30
Plein Air in the Park
March 28 – 30, 2019
The Baton Rouge Botanic Garden Foundation will sponsor this event which takes place at the Independence Botanical Gardens. Artists from the area will paint the gardens for three days, culminating in a wet wall sale on Saturday afternoon from 4:00-7:00 in the Garden Cafe Banquet Room of the Goodwood Library Plaza.
Arts in Medicine at Baton Rouge General
8585 Picardy Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA
Artwork is located in the Cafe a nice place to have lunch or pick up supper.
Inspire:To fill with the urge to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
Louisiana,You Inspire Me was the theme of Associated Women in the Arts’ Spring Exhibition at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol. While many things about my adopted state motivate me to paint, I had difficulty pinpointing what truly inspires me. I only saw Fr. Mascarella once when he said Mass at the church I attended. This retired priest, who was blind, often substituted in different parishes throughout the diocese. Considering the logistics of his traveling anywhere, I was impressed that he got around as much as he did. The faith he had in his service dog, Pace, was in a word, inspiring.
I joined a group of artists sketching at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Baton Rouge several days after Fr. Mascarella passed away. Sitting at the rear of the church (because that’s where I always sit) my perspective included stained glass windows between the arches. It was pretty dark but the watercolor sketch was all right.
Several days later, my husband came home with a photo his friend, Paula, took of Fr. Mascarella with Pace, sitting in the area of the cathedral I had drawn the weekend before. I knew then that would be my painting. He persevered when he could have easily given up, continued to serve his community in retirement, and even took art classes at LSU though he could could not see. Thank you, Fr. Mascarella, for being an inspiration not only to me, but hundreds of others.