Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Battle of the Cosmos

The painting class that Elizabeth joins in Art's Blood is based on a weekly painting studio/class in Asheville that I attended for years (until the writing took away that bit of spare time). We were a diverse crew -- some very serious, very talented painters, some hobbyists, and everything in between. Some folks came in, went to work, and hardly ever spoke; others treated the 3 hour sessions as something of a cocktail party -- a chance to wander around and visit with others. Two members of that class , who I'll call Saralee and Martha, were ladies from my county -- charming older women whose down home accents and forthright observations were always a delight.

"You'd not credit how hard is is to get any of those women out there where I live to go do anything," said Saralee one day. "You ask 'em do they want to go to town and eat lunch and they bow up and say, 'Oh, I have to stay home and fix Roy his lunch.' Well, I just tell my man, he kin fix him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or he kin suck his thumb."

Once when I'd had to miss class, I called to talk to a friend who was another member. "You missed a good one," she said. "Saralee and Martha got into a big argument about the cosmos Martha was painting -- Saralee said Martha had it wrong."

"Cosmos? Martha's painting the cosmos?" I was staggered -- both ladies generally painted country scenes, barns and mountains and pastures and such. It was hard to imagine Martha dipping into speculative representation -- I pictured huge swirling purple and black abstract shapes.

"How did Saralee think a cosmos should look then?" I asked my friend.

"She just said they had more petals."
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