Saturday, September 19, 2015

Teatime Tale #38 — Art and Inspiration

Art and Inspiration

            Teresa's mother had given her that first teacup, a simple Blue Willow cup and saucer. When her grandmother passed away, Teresa inherited a pretty cobalt-blue cup and saucer by Royal Albert. A girlfriend who often sat in her kitchen sipping tea noticed the blue teawares and began to give her blue teacups for Christmas and birthdays. And so a collection began.
            While Teresa enjoyed drinking tea from the pretty teacups, she got the greatest pleasure from admiring their beautiful colors and patterns. She marveled that such miniscule pieces of art appeared on such thoroughly useful vessels.
            Teresa was taking art classes at the local rec department, and she’d made excellent progress with her watercolor painting. Her instructor had encouraged her to enter a local juried art show, but Teresa didn’t feel she was ready for that.
            One sunny fall afternoon, Teresa decided to go outside on her patio to paint. First, she focused on the last of the morning glories in the backyard flower garden. The periwinkle color was glorious, and Teresa painted several blossoms, but the result was lackluster. She turned her attention to an autumnal display of white and orange pumpkins. A fall-themed piece of art would be nice to have in her home, but Teresa painted the pumpkins and found them unbearably boring.

            She walked into the house to make a cup of cranberry tea. Out of habit, she reached for the Blue Willow teacup from her mother. Teresa caressed it and fingered the rim. It still had that small nick in the back, but if she painted the teacup, who would ever know?
            Forgetting the cranberry tea, Teresa headed outside with the Blue Willow teacup and began to compose a scene. Something bothered her, though. The single teacup looked a little too perfect, a little too stiff. She went inside, retrieved three more blue teacups, and headed back outside.
            Teresa stacked them haphazardly, staggering the handles and giving the teacups a casual appearance. Bright blue watercolor paints began to fill the paper, and soon, Teresa was quite pleased. Despite the inspiration of nature around her, Teresa had found beauty right in the middle of her kitchen with everyday objects she used and had taken for granted.
            For once feeling satisfied with her work, Teresa took the teacup painting to her next art class to share. The instructor, Harriet, asked to speak with her after class.
            "Thanks for staying, Teresa. I'm quite impressed with this painting. What do you plan to do with it?"
            "I haven’t planned to do anything with it," Teresa said. "Hang it in my kitchen, I suppose."
            "Are you very attached to it?"
            “I like it, obviously, but … do you have something in mind?”
            “I do, actually. Have you heard about the new women’s shelter in town?”
            “I saw a little about it on Facebook.”
            “They’re holding a fund-raising tea next week, and I’m gathering donations of local art for the silent auction. I would love to have this piece if you'd consider donating it. I’d be very surprised if this didn’t bring more attention to your work and perhaps get you a few commissions as well.”
            “I don't know about all that, but sure, I'll help. What if it doesn't sell, though? I wouldn't want my painting to fall flat in the silent auction.”
            “You let me worry about that,” Harriet said, smiling. “And of course I want you as my guest at the luncheon on September twenty-fourth. Are you free?”
            “Yes,” Teresa said, “but again, I hope someone likes the painting as much as you do.”
            “Great. I'm listing an opening bid of one hundred twenty-five dollars, but I bet it'll go for much more.”
            Teresa gulped. She had never sold a painting in her life. One hundred twenty-five dollars for a watercolor by an unknown artist? Would an auction goer ever pay that?

            The day of the luncheon, Teresa arrived and was pleased to find a few of her friends were there as well. She sat with Harriet. After the shelter’s director welcomed everyone and tea sandwiches were served, the first silent auction item went up. The beautiful oil painting, a fall landscape, was an instant hit, and bidding shot up to three hundred dollars. Teresa began to get nervous. They had announced the name of the artist, so if her own name was announced when her piece went up, she would be embarrassed if there were no bids.
            After the scone course, some flower arrangements were auctioned off, followed by another oil painting that sold for six hundred dollars. Teresa began to wonder if her painting had even made the lineup, but following the sweets course, a shelter volunteer brought out the teacup painting and paraded it around the room.
            Finally, the auctioneer held up her painting. “May I have an opening bid of one hundred twenty-five dollars?”
            A hand went up. The bidding quickly shot up to two hundred, two fifty, three hundred, then three fifty. Before she knew it, Teresa had watched her painting sell for eight hundred dollars. She sat speechless, tears filling her eyes.
            “I told you!” Harriet said smugly. “I had a hunch this would be the hit of the auction, and I also think you need to seriously consider painting more works in this style.”
            “I’m thrilled it did so well, and yes, I’ll absolutely think about painting more works like this,” Teresa said.
            And she did. She went home and thought about how much joy the actual painting of that piece had brought her. Maybe she would create a few others and see if she could place them in local galleries. Maybe she'd create some notecards and prints for sale, too. Suddenly, her artistic possibilities seemed endless.
            But first, Teresa sat in her kitchen, where she sipped a cup of cranberry tea, looked at her Blue Willow teacup, and again admired its beauty, so pleased she had helped others see it as well.


  1. I got choked up when Theresa's painting sold for so much. Beautiful story by a different kind of artist.

  2. What a touching story. How special for this artist and for the shelter. Wishing it was true!

  3. I love this story and all the memories that go with that one tea cup. Beautiful!

  4. Another sweet story. I love the illustrations for all your stories, too.

  5. Unknown artist with quite a flair. Heartwarming Angela - way to go Teresa!

  6. Oh, what a happy, happy story! I totally adore this one! : - )

  7. This story is really touching, Angela, I want it to be a "true story!" I love the artwork too, very pretty. Thank you for sharing your talents, Joanie


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