Showcasing E. Cossey Ritten

I recently said goodbye to Mom, a wonderful, artistic and courageous woman. She was a great influence on me and I miss her. It helps to know she is in Heaven, happy and free from pain and worries. Writers are well aware of the saying “write what you know?” Well, my Mom built what she knew and loved. Widowed at a young age, she started a very successful art supply and picture framing shop. You see, Mom was a passionate artists. That’s what she knew. She began to paint when she was fourteen and her love of painting lasted until she could no longer hold up a paintbrush. That’s a lot of years to put paint on canvas and paper. She created oil paintings, watercolors, a few batiks and even some collage work, but Mom’s favorite medium was acrylic. The Group of Seven strongly influenced her work, possibly because one of the famous members taught her at the Banff School of Fine Arts during two summers.  His name was A.Y. Jackson. If you don’t know who he is, look him up. Quite the artist. Quite the group. Over the years Mom compiled photos of every painting she made. All were categorized and cataloged. (Someday, I’m going to count how many there were, but it will take some time.) When she sold a painting, she penned a tiny ‘s’ in the corner of the corresponding photo. No big “SOLD” written across the picture, just something nearly imperceptible. That was Mom. She never boasted about her abilities, though she’d sold hundreds of pieces of art over her lifetime. Any awards she won over the years at the Calgary Exhibitions or numerous other shows and competitions, she merely tucked away in an unassuming box. I wish I had taken more interest in Mom’s art. I wish I’d asked her what inspired her to paint that picture, or why she chose that particular medium or those colors. But I didn’t. You see, I grew up watching her paint in her small art studio next to the furnace. That’s what she did.  She also cooked, cleaned and did a million other things. It wasn’t until I was in school that I realized not all mothers painted. And older yet when I understood that Mom possessed a wonderful talent. When we packed up her things, we put over 250 paintings into storage. What a wonderful legacy for her children, grandchildren and descendents yet to be born. But no artist wants their work hidden. They want it to be  shared. And so that is what I plan to do. I hope you will indulge me because I’m going to post some of Mom’s paintings from time to time. I’m very proud of her, for so many reasons…one of which is her art. I think you’ll see why. Here are two of her paintings.

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