Friday, August 26, 2011

The Soul of an Artist

nuchylee /

Sometimes we know a person in just one dimension, and when we learn something new about them we are inspired and enriched. My hairdresser, whom I will call "Naomi", recently invited me to peek inside her art studio (a.k.a. a "kitchen" but that is of secondary importance to her). On the wall, on the easel, everywhere I looked I saw oil paintings of rich depth and complexity: landscapes, people, still lifes.  I marveled at her talent and the story behind it.

Noami had desired to paint all of her life, but with a half-dozen children and a career she didn't have the time to pursue it. It was one of those unfulfilled dreams, and at the age of 56 she figured it wasn't practical to consider starting a new hobby.

Enter a 90-year-old customer, who came in for a haircut and style. This lady was an accomplished artist and she encouraged Naomi to "GO FOR IT!"

"But I am 56 years old! What could I possibly accomplish now? Isn't it too late for me to become proficient as an artist?"

The elderly artist replied, "No. I began when I was 60."

That encouragement started Naomi on the path to a new passion. She bought video lessons and after the beauty shop was swept clean and the doors locked, she painted. She painted 7 to 8 hours, oblivious of the time. "It seemed but a few minutes," she recalls.

Within 90 days, she sold her first oil painting.  By the end of the year, she had sold nearly half of the 80+ works that she created.

It wasn't long before Naomi graduated from video lessons to receiving instruction from master artists. Her way is to learn all she can from a given teacher and then move on. A decade later, she is still reaching higher, pursuing a greater level of artistic achievement.

Her next dream? Remodel that kitchen so as to accommodate her art paraphernalia and to convert it to a bona fide studio. 

Meanwhile, she paints. She makes do with the space she has and dreams of a better studio do not rob her of the joy of painting now.

She paints alone. Sometimes she also enjoys the comfortable camaraderie of other artists when she sets up her easel at a local art studio.

I loved lingering after my hair appointment to see Naomi's studio and to listen to her story. So many of us have secret dreams that lay dormant in the heart. We never know when the conditions might converge to awaken that seed to sprout forth to life. Old age holds no fear to the one who can realize that THIS season may just provide the fertile ground for a new interest to flourish.

C.S. Lewis wisely expressed it this way:

"You are never too old
to set another goal
to dream a new dream."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cheese, Qualified

Free Photo of White Cheddar Cheese. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart

"...he sat sadly consuming that impassive pale substance known to the English as 'cheese' unqualified (for there are cheeses which go openly by their names, as Stilton, Camembert, Gruyere, Wensleydale or Gorgonzola, but 'cheese' is cheese and everywhere the same)..."
                                           Dorothy Sayers- Whose Body?

I have 10 days left of my summer break, and I am only just now getting the chance to dive into the reading I wanted to do. Oh my, I am enjoying Dorothy Sayers!

Don't you just love this quote about the cheese?  I'm familiar with all of them except the Wensleydale.  I find it interesting that her words were written in the 1920's and the cheeses have maintained their original identities nearly a century later.  Here is a little run-down on the "qualified cheeses" she mentions:

*Stilton- think blue cheese. By law, it must be produced in one of three English counties to earn the name.

*Camembert- a soft French cheese made of cows' milk.  Its name comes from the mold, penicillium camemberti used in the ripening process.

*Gruyere- sweet, a little salty, with a grainy mouth feel. Named for a town in Switzerland, it is the familiar swiss cheese we love to use in quiche and fondues.

*Wensleydale- new to me, but my internet search tells me it is still widely loved and popular. First made by the monks in the Roquefort region of France, it is crumbly, moist, and can be made from the milk of either cows or ewes. "Roquefort" salad dressing is familiar to me and gives a clue that it is a cousin to the Stilton blue cheese.

*Gorgonzola- bearing the name of the Italian town of Gorgonzola, this cheese is often associated with pasta or pizza. Pungent and crumbly, it is another member of the blue cheese family.

My husband and I drove through cheese country (Wisconsin), on our honeymoon. We took the uncharted back roads, happening upon wonderful dairy farms by serendipity. Every day we feasted upon an assortment of cheeses and french bread and 34 years later I can still conjure up the pleasure. I have often wondered if those family operations still exist, or have the big corporations swallowed them all up?

What is your favorite cheese?