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Botanical Rain: the enduring Endico image



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Updated August 08, 2017 | By Bob Fugett ©2017

God Given Talent

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Botanical Rain - Mary Endico ©1979
(9" x 10" original watercolor)

The light was perfectly low in the richly appointed and carefully maintained bistro restaurant.

Finest linen table cloths and napkins, a candle on each table giving motion to the deep burgundy linens tossing color onto the ultra-white napkins, modest specialty bread appetizers, more servers than necessary collecting crumbs as soon as they fell using the choicest hand sweepers, cuisine was being served not food.

Everything the best.

I had been standing in a slightly removed corner cradling my guitar, singing and entertaining all through dinner.

It was the first time somebody commended me for having a "god given talent".

A coworker from my day job at the textile shipping department for Vera Industries (Scarves and Blouses) had been hidden in the audience the entire night, but he went out of his way to thank me on the way out.

Immediately on hearing god given talent, I thought, "Wait a minute, this is the main culprit among those who have been deriding and laughing at me for the last two years after everybody heard I started studying music."

"You're wasting your time. Either you can sing or you can't. It's something you have to be born with!"

So now what, now that he's heard I'm moving up as Assistant Studio Coordinator for the Art Department, now I've got talent?!"

I almost punched him.

I have watched Mary Endico endure the same ignorant "you've got talent" comments for more than 40 years.

My voice teacher (at the time of my anointment by coworker) had sung with Edith Piaf, was sitting on the New York Metropolitan auditions panel, had been on the Ed Sullivan Show seven times, knew Sammy Davis Jr. and all those people very well, told me I was handling my affairs very much like them.

She once said to me, "Bob, nobody is ever going to know how hard you had to work to be able to sing ... probably just as well."

It might be easy to assume it was a "god given talent" that allowed Mary Endico to quickly paint Botanical Rain from memory, seemingly without thought, after rushing through the location only once, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Mary had already been an avid painter for 14 years before adding to her resumé a four year Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Boston University.

B.U. was offering one of the top fine art programs in the country at the time.

Her grades at the start of her college career were mediocre, but she steadily improved to excellence by graduation.

One of the standard exercises she was given routinely throughout, was to observe a model or scene for a short time, then turn away and draw it from memory.

Mary was not born with the ability to paint a plein air from memory; she was trained to do it.

The training was rigorously hard, but she weathered the battles because she loved painting, sculpting, and making things with her hands.

During her studies she also learned basic design principles derived from 40,000 years of humans carefully observing the human aesthetic response.

Humans have only been writing about their findings regarding aesthetic response for the last 5,300 years, but it seems to have been enough.

Not only was Mary practiced at observing a situation and quickly memorizing its visual reality, she knew exactly which elements were the salient points to remember for triggering deep human response.

Take another closer look at the image of Botanical Rain at the top of this page.

You don't think it is an accident do you, the fact that the arc above the light is a repeat of the arcs on the awning back left, two elements of the car behind the light, two of the umbrellas, and also that arc is used in 90° counter clockwise rotation to form the flirtatious skirt.

You didn't think all that an accident, did you?

Also the repeat of the umbrella shape making a fire hydrant like none anywhere in the real world, happenstance?

Check out the repeat of reds, scattered haphazardly?

Not likely, take a moment to abstract the composition of just those reds and you might gasp.

Note the offset of the puddles both in placement and size at the base of the hydrant.

Plus that road leading to the light, it is off-center for a very specific aesthetic and semiotic necessity.

These are just a few of numerous such design elements correctly implemented in this painting.

These are things that one can study with qualified instructors in order to learn quickly, or bang out piece by piece to come to an understanding of them over a long period of time by brute force experience.

Smart people choose the former.

However, formal art study or not, most people are subject to aesthetic response.

Some even have an observable physical reaction.

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