My mother’s sweet nature and true kindness made a great impression on me. She got a degree in art after high school. Sketching and painting people were her passion. When mother painted someone’s portrait, I was quite interested in watching her mix the paints and apply the paintbrush to the canvas. It seemed that the final portrait made the person look beautiful!
How could this be, I wondered, when some of them really were not beautiful at all? What did she see that I didn’t see?
One summer afternoon, after mother signed the finished portrait of an elderly neighbor, I asked her, “She has bony arms, gray hair and a long nose, but you painted her really pretty. Why?” My mother replied gently, “I emphasize the best and minimize the rest. The portrait ends up being one that both the artist and the subject can be happy with. That’s my way.”
Years later I realized that my mother’s motto was something she also applied to daily life. Friends of all ages often approached me or other members of the family with similar comments, “I have never heard your mother say an unkind word about anyone” or “Your mother always has something nice to say to everybody, even folks who are not very nice”.
Such comments are really touching. Frequently, I reflect on her motto and attempt to follow her wise example. Oh, it doesn’t come naturally, but it does get easier to “Emphasize the best and minimize the rest” when I become familiar with people.
There is something beautiful in everyone. It doesn’t require an artist’s trained eye to find that beauty.