Saturday, January 31, 2009

Red Roses

Got another bouquet for my kitchen tables today, and tossed the old mini-carnations that lasted about three weeks! How can I resist treating myself to a $3.49 bouquet of 6 deep, red roses? My paperwhites were flopping over , so I snipped them off and added them to the vase!

New bouquet

Speaking of Red Rose, I always buy Red Rose tea because of the free little porcelain figurine inside! Yes, it's kind of like getting a freebie in the cereal box! I added a little duck to my windowsill collection. I have quite a collection now.

Ducky-Newest Red Rose figurine

Even though I do enjoy a morning mug of tea, I inherited most of my Red Rose figurines from Esther Brooks, my longtime friend and mentor. She taught English at Chenango Valley Schools and took up painting after she retired. Her devotion, energy and spirit survive to this day. (She died several years ago in her mid-nineties).After I got my license, I used to drive over to her home on the edge of a woods, and she treated me like her dearest friend. She treated everyone that way.

For years, she hosted an informal art group, composed of mostly older women. She'd usher everyone downstairs where each would work on an oil painting. Esther would offer tips and comments. My Mom belonged to this very loose knit group of artistic friends, and it was great for her to let her guard down somewhat. If I was in town, I'd often accompany her, and I relished hearing the others talk and socialize so easily, discussing not only their paintings, but their families and health concerns, etc. Then, we'd go upstairs to have potluck lunches,(Wanda was famous for her crustless pies!) often accompanied by freshly made iced tea, with mint leaves from their garden. Esther's sister, Ruth, shared the home with Esther and her husband, Cliff. Ruth often played piano upstairs, while we were in the basement. It was wonderful!

Ruth was artistic, too. She created small, clay figurines, usually of birds or wildlife. She perfectly captured the essence of polar bears and penguins. I have an ox and a koala bear she did. Esther preferred watercolors, especially portraits. She wasn't shy about asking striking looking people to model for her. One of her best oil portraits featured an African American woman in a richly patterned, golden caftan and matching headscarf. Her portrait looked serene and proud, and it seemed life-sized in my memory. Esther loved people, birds, flowers, gardening and was always creating something! Whenever I visited, it was like show-and-tell, as she eagerly showed me recently done watercolors she'd been working on- of an old, weathered barn,or a stone aqueduct or blazing, red poppies.

Even when she moved into assisted living, she'd show me sketches of the van's driver, or relate amusing senior citizen stories, mimicking table manners of her dining room companions. I really miss Esther. I hadn't intended to write about her, but the Red Rose figurines along my windowsill loosened my memory. I think I also feel guilty that her obituary made no mention of her artistic influence on many in our community, and I didn't have the gumption at her memorial service to stand up and say how much she meant to me.(I've always regretted it) Although those who knew her, know what a great gal she was.

I finally broke down and bought a 50 pound bag of black, oil sunflower seeds for $20 at the local feed store. I was paying $4 for five pounds every two days. Our two feeders are busier than the local diner. (There are often 50-70 small birds in our yard at one time along with three sets of cardinals)

Train signals,drawing in progress

I've been plugging away at my train drawings; started another one this week. I'm also nearing completion of my quilt series, 20 wall hangings- each one featuring a dozen illustrations from my annual calendar. I can't remember when I got the idea to transfer all my illustrations onto muslin panels. I hope to have a show in the community room of the Sidney library. Maybe in March?

Critter critic in "my studio"


1 comment:

suzanne cabrera said...

What a wonderful "meaty" full of inspiration and goodness. I've never had Red Rose tea before, but think I'll have to track some down. I, too, never got past the prize in cereal...