Sedro-Woolley assisted living community hosts show for resident artist

Rosemary Boissonade stands next to some of her artwork March 8 at Country Meadow Village, an assisted living facility in Sedro-Woolley. The 95-year old is a resident at the facility who did not take up painting until her 70s. Oliver Hamlin, Skagit Valley Herald

SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Residents of Country Meadow Village had little idea how talented an artist was they had within their midst.

They found out recently when an art show titled “The works of Rosemary ‘Cooper’ Boissonade” opened at the Sedro-Woolley assisted living community.

The 95-year-old Boissonade has lived at Country Meadow Village for the past eight months, moving from Roseville, California, to be closer to her son and daughter-in-law.

“I was very surprised and happy with all the positive comments,” Boissonade said about seeing her paintings in a gallery-like setting. “Everyone has been so complimentary. I’m so glad that my son (Bob) helped David (Bricka, program director) set this up. Everyone loves all the animal pictures.”

“Horse Whisperer” by Rosemary Boissonade hangs on a wall at Country Meadow Village, an assisted living facility in Sedro-Woolley. The work was part of a show titled “The works of Rosemary ‘Cooper’ Boissonade,” which featured one of the facility’s residents. Oliver Hamlin/Skagit Valley Herald

Though artistic as a child, particularly with regard to music, Boissonade didn’t put brush to canvas until 2003 when she was in her 70s.

Shortly thereafter, she took a class taught by Margot Schulzke, an acclaimed pastel painter and author in Newcastle, California.

“I just thought it would be a fun thing to try,” Boissonade said. “And then people that were working in Newcastle saw my work and wanted me to come work with them.”

It wasn’t long before Boissonade was entering her work in juried art shows. Her first entry, titled “Horse Whisperers,” was of two rather stunning white horses.

She eventually began to sell her work while also giving paintings to family members. She produced about 300 paintings and still retains a vast portfolio of unframed pieces consisting of still lifes, landscapes and portraits.

“I entered lots into shows over the years,” she said. “I received plenty of kudos for my work. If there was a show, I’d enter it.”

Joan McMurray, who lives in Thousand Oaks, California, was a classmate of Boissonade at the Schulzke-led class. Both were members of Northern California Arts, Inc. — a group that supports artists — and both took the Schulzke class to work on their pastels.

McMurray described her classmate’s work with one word.

“Awesome. She was an awesome pastelist, and she was prolific at it as well. She always had a painting with her in order to have the teacher critique (it),” McMurray said.

“Alex’s Friend” by Rosemary Boissonade hangs in her apartment March 9 as part of her private collection at Country Meadow Village, an assisted living facility in Sedro-Woolley.

“And very little had to ever be changed following those critiques. She was just that good. She certainly worked at her art. She never just threw something together to take to class. She worked at it every day, but I believe she was a natural.”

Pastels were Boissonade’s favorite medium and the reason was simple.

“They were cheap and not too messy,” she said.

Boissonade said animals, including horses, dogs and cats, were her favorite subjects to paint.

It was her portraits, however, that impressed McMurray.

“Most of her paintings I saw were of people,” McMurray said. “She had lots of portraits and some still lifes, but mostly portraits.

“She never worked small. She always worked pretty good-sized pieces. Most people start out with a little, small piece. But she always started out with a big piece. Regardless of the size of the work, they were really amazing.”