BY ANDREA VARGO
Painting provides an outlet for Rose Besky's passion for color and detail.
Besky, a Howard Lake resident, has always expressed her artistic side, even designing the cover for her eighth grade graduation program.
She asked, "Remember those 'Draw Me' things on the inside of match covers? Well, I did one and sent it in.
"My dad got a call from some guy trying to sell a correspondence course."
Her dad said she could go to a regular art school and he would pay for it. She didn't, because she couldn't commit to it.
"I figured it would be just like the piano they bought, and all the lessons they paid for," she said.
"So I didn't go to school, but I did get married about a year after graduation and had three children."
During the time they lived in Pine City, her husband Bob signed her up for an oil painting class. He said she needed to get out more, since they had the three small kids.
Her art teacher had the class do a scene of an old mill. Besky didn't like doing it and said she didn't do it well.
Then she got to pick her own scene. She chose a black Labrador retriever with a pheasant in its mouth.
Her teacher wasn't too enthusiastic about it, but he helped her through it.
"It turned out ok, but wasn't one of my best," she said.
A move to St. Paul to live with Besky's mother for a time gave her a chance to be closer to work.
She had a job in environmental services in nursing homes at the time.
Then a move to Delano brought her in contact with a folk art teacher. "She got me into painting coffee pots and milk cans," she said.
Besky still wasn't satisfied with that style of painting, although she sold some and gave more as gifts.
She has developed her own style now, that involves more accurate detail, more intricate pictures.
Used to be she would take old parts and pieces of furniture and paint on them. She learned to recycle from her dad, who took old wood and made furniture.
"I used to buy a lot at garage sales, and some other crafters buy things at estate auctions. Now I include new items," Besky said.
Gene Schmidt of Howard Lake builds new pieces for her, and she paints her scenes on them.
Some are toy boxes; some are storage chests or tables.
"I recently painted a piece that looks like a small dressing table with the sponge technique, and there is a small stool to match.
"I'll put it up at the Old Town Gallery with some of my other stuff," she said.
Some of that other stuff includes her first cross-cut saw and some things she is doing with clay and wood. A scene of downtown Howard Lake adorns the saw blade.
That item alone took her three weeks, working every spare minute, she said.
"This takes a lot of time to accomplish, and it is hard to charge accordingly for the pieces." Besky said.
The time she spends on her projects will increase soon. Besky plans to retire from her job at the Long Lake Nursing Home.
Although she gave her resignation over a month ago, it has been hard to actually quit, Besky said.
"It is hard for them to find qualified people, and I get so attached to the residents, that it is really difficult to stay away," she said.
Besky also needs to retire, because she has fibermyalgia. This is a disease of the muscles and soft tissues, she said.
"It causes muscle weakness. There was a time when I helped my husband build a chimney and carried bricks. Now I can't carry a grocery bag," she said.
So, retirement will assure her of more time to devote to her craft, while she can.
Her display at Old Town Gallery should increase in size, she said, and she will be able to spend more time there.