Dried Rose. Watercolor, 4x7. Brandi Malarkey, artist. ItsAllMalarkey.com


Love and memory can both be odd things with whims of their own.

Two years ago my father died. While he was ill I found myself compulsively purchasing lottery tickets and art supplies I had no time to use. I never won the lottery, and I only created one piece of art the entire time he was sick.

Mixed Media 8 x 10

When he died, I spent the next year playing with the small art supply store I had managed to create for myself. One year ago I launched this website to share my art adventures with friends and family, and hosted a small art display at Sweet Dreams Confections (owned by my dad’s good friends and home to the best gelato in town). So it is very fitting that to commemorate one year of this website I share a very special commission.

My dad was very into symbols. Anniversaries, mementos, visiting tombstones…the symbols meant love for him, and served him for remembrance. I don’t do symbols quite the same way. I am much more likely to save up snapshot memories that strike at odd moments, or get teary-eyed over a song that reminds me of someone strongly–or, you know, make weird art and launch a website. My daughter, however, shares my dad’s love of physical symbols to hold on to.

My father loved roses, and they covered his casket at his funeral. My daughter brought one home with her and hung it upside down to dry, and it has remained gracing the corner of the living room near her piano, which is somehow entirely fitting, as we credit her love of music and dancing to his habit of singing and dancing around his living room with her as a baby when he would watch her. However, dried flowers do not survive forever, and this one kept getting bumped this Christmas as it was entirely too close to the fireplace and stockings. So before it could be destroyed forever, a request was made.

I have never painted anything dried before, and oy! It was a challenge! Fortunately for me, my daughter is easily pleased. For her, it is Grandpa Pete’s rose, painted by Mommy, and a total win.

Dried Rose. Watercolor, 4x7. Brandi Malarkey, artist. ItsAllMalarkey.com

Dried Rose

My daughter has definitely tied roses to my father, as for Christmas this past year she decided to buy him a rose for a Christmas present. This resulted in a trip to the cemetery, where we dug clear the snow from a lot of headstones looking for my dad’s before discovering we were in the wrong field. This is not unlike a trip with my dad to the same cemetery where we dug up snow over the entire area looking for my grandmother’s grave. Apparently we have trouble remembering exactly where our family members reside. So, basically, if you ever go out to the local cemetery in the winter and it looks like a gang of deranged earthworms, moles, and prairie dogs have invaded a field, you can pretty much be sure we’ve visited recently.

So Grandpa Pete’s rose is now a slightly more sturdy memento than it was originally, and when the actual rose inevitably falls apart there will be far fewer tears than there could have been.

Also, just because, here is one of the songs I always associate with my dad.


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