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  • Writer's pictureBeti Kristof

A Canvas Sonata

"Cheruble Twos" by Beti Kristof, oil on canvas, 2016.

A toddler slips out from the grasp of his grandmother, who is looking onto the garden of the English home, as her daughter, Roslynn, is being interviewed and photographed for the London Evening Standard. The toddler slips out and races past the reporters and photographers, naturally, to share his rightful spot at his mother's side. He reaches the strings to demonstrate to the onlookers a most familiar world to him. His mother poised and elegant for her photo, is immediately transformed into spontaneous laughter as the photographers snap away with their cameras. That precious moment, mother and son are captured for the article and all of London. Roslynn Marre, 48 years later and a grandmother herself, was sharing the story with me of that afternoon. The black and white photo she took of the newspaper was faded and worn, but her memory was vibrant! Years ago, Roslynn, was a Master Harpist in England. She entertained London's elite with her albums, live BBC radio, as well as playing in orchestras and exclusive clubs. She had at one point played for the Queen of England and her entourage. Roslynn’s father was a composer and conductor in London and as a young harpist under her father's eye, her youth included many hours of daily practice. She was the ‘Best of the best'.

Artist Beti Kristof with Roslynn.

As an artist, my greatest privilege is the opportunity to touch others’ lives on a personal level. To recreate this commission placed me right there in that London garden. As a mother myself with both a daughter and two sons, I could relate to the impromptu of spontaneous toddlers. Personal memories of English gardens, mixed with a little Hungarian influence, was my reference as to what a garden might have been like in the late ’60’s. The harp, you ask? The detail of the B/W photo of Roslynn harp was faded. The harp in the painting is a composite of what I could see from the actual photo and other references and what I believe a beautiful harp should look like. Today that harp would be valued at $35,000 - maybe more. The detail of the carving, the wood, the gold leaf and of course the precision of the crafting…leaves me in great regard and awe for the beauty of the work and the talent it takes to have mastered it. Just the thought of a harp inspires images of ethereal music resonating with the higher senses.

Artist Beti Kristof at the easel.

As I enjoyed hours at the easel, I found myself reflecting on the moment in that English garden as harp music played in the background in my studio. I felt a kindred spirit with Rozlynn, as I too have practiced my skills throughout the years and I wanted to deliver a work of art that not only retold her story but added to her memory in full vivid color. A visual sonata to her life. Roslynn Marre, was deeply emotional as I presented her the oil painting that afternoon, at Eccoci, Boca Park. I am deeply honored to have been a part of that special experience of her son Danielle and a slice of Roslyn’s prolific life. We shared happy tears as she for the first time saw the painting full size. A beautiful piece of family history, and a heirloom with a precious story to pass to her children and children’s children.

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