I discovered art by accident—late in life—when I took my son to a shop called Glazes, where you paint your own ceramics. Painting helped me forget about cancer; before long I was hooked.
While painting, I liked to float off into my own zone—and at first I was VERY insecure about my artistic ability. A woman named Gail worked at Glazes; but I didn’t sit near her because she painted so well that watching her made me feel more insecure.
I changed my mind once I realized how much I could learn from her. She showed me brushstrokes and techniques I would never have figured out on my own. There seemed to be nothing artistic she couldn’t do–not just painting but photography, knitting, sewing, papercrafts. Her talent dazzled me.
I spent a lot of time (and money) at Glazes, and Gail would encourage my efforts. I tried to encourage her to apply her own artistic ability in a serious way. But she seemed content to help me develop mine.
A few years younger than me, no kids, never married, Gail’s life outside Glazes remained private to me, although she got to know a lot about mine. My kids would come in with me sometimes; or they’d come in without me to make something for Mother’s Day—and Gail would help them make something special. Just like she helped all the other people who came into Glazes to paint.
In that way, Gail’s artistic touch is in lots of homes where no one would know her name or her face. Her artistic touch is in my home, too.
When my dishes were on display at a local home show, Gail painted this fish platter to fill out my set. She also made handwoven placemats out of ribbon, and even came up with the name for the table, Rhapsody in Blue and Yellow. Her artistic talent helped us get voted the favorite table at the show.
At home, this cabinet holds my dishes, with Gail’s fish platter at the lower right. I walk by her platter every day without really seeing it. I haven’t seen much of Gail either, over the past few years. My life grew busier, I hardly ever painted anymore at Glazes.
When Gail got sick a few months ago I felt guilty that I didn’t get more involved–and I hoped she would understand. I know she forgave me. I’m not so sure I forgive myself.
Gail died today. And because of the quiet way she chose to live, I feel as if her life will pass without making a ripple. I just couldn’t let her go without being sure somebody would notice she was gone.