What is it? From my gallery visits as a kid to art history in college and many museums later, it is the art of adding and of taking away.

Painters add paint to canvas with vision, skill, nuance and God-given talent to create masterpieces such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Sculptors have the same traits but they take away, as Michelangelo did when he saw a huge block of marble at Settignano and envisioned the statue of David inside and chipped away until he found him.

I’ve no such artistic prowess but over the years have learned to think for myself. I add and subtract in writing, cooking and now framing. My parents and aunts critiqued my writing. Add and edit. My sister and I had a pact in high school that she would do the grammar in French class and if she told me the basics of a story I would write it and she would translate both our stories.

As to cooking I won’t ever order one of those boxes of food for a certain number of people and make it according to their recipe. I paid my life savings to go to cooking school, look for what is fresh and good and make something up or update a childhood favorite. What’s the joy of cooking out of a refrigerated box? Everyone here gets them. When I was growing up, our cousins, aunts and our family used to meet for summer vacation. Dad said all us gals did was talk about breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well, they wouldn’t have eaten otherwise.

I think that creativity is the key to good meals, friends and family and conversations. I do so now with art. My last artistic endeavor was on construction paper in crayon, at age five, The Wizard of Oz. I had it framed for my husband and with all the art here, it’s his favorite work.

K, my framer, and I have it down to a science. I bring a couple of things in and we discuss potential choices, I decide, we do UVA and UVB-proof glass (98%) and usually double-mat and choose from framing options. I was afraid of this for so long, making lifetime decisions. Now it’s just creative, and fun.

Just as I go to the grocery store and shop the outside aisles to see what’s fresh, local, good and hopefully on sale I can make anything (besides puff pastry, I’ve “hot hands” that melt the butter but now there’s frozen). I can take a photo or sketch or painting in to K and choose what I wish to do with it.

Once I got the analogy between art and food it all came together. I’m afraid that Dorothy, the cowardly lion, scarecrow and tin man are the end of my career as a five year-old artist but the art I’m given, photos I take are all mine to frame to my heart’s content.

Flowers were another fear. I still make some simple arrangements. Today there are three “ashes of roses” for three mini-milk bottles in a cute metal cage (my husband grew up on a dairy) for our immediate family. A bunch of daffodils for Dad’s memorial vase. On the counter is a St. Patrick’s Day melange of heather, dianthus, bells of Ireland and three spider mums. I’ve a Spring class on Saturday at my talented florists.

I like to come in and pick and choose. If something dies, as dead flowers are prone to do, I fill in and come up with new arrangements. Today I had one live gerbera daisy, cut it short and placed it in a shot glass in the guest bath. Of course I learn new techniques in an annual class but I know how to choose stems for myself and what goes together in what vase, and how. I’ve good pruning shears and a number of vases over the years (my husband always brought me flowers in a vase). Now I buy flowers for him every week and he never noticed until I started buying surplus 1970’s scientific flasks, then he noticed.

Here’s to using your mind for complex tasks like reading accounting books and doing several states worth of taxes, and creative ones like cooking, floral arranging and picture framing. Not to mention writing. Cheers! Dee


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