By Stephanie Choate
November 14th, 2013
Every week, the Monet Mamas get together to eat, paint, laugh and share their lives.
Four retired teachers—three art teachers and one science instructor—formed the group a dozen years ago. Now, the group has grown to six, though some of the members have changed.
“We all love to paint so we decided to meet weekly,” said Williston resident Elinor Morency, who taught art in Essex, St. Albans and Shelburne for 24 years. “We didn’t take ourselves too seriously. We meet to paint and have a good time.”
Williston painter Mary Lou Marcussen, who taught art in Williston for 22 years, said they are “almost equally into food as we are into our artwork.”
The Monet Mamas even put together a couple cookbooks, cataloguing the recipes they enjoyed during their painting days. The group gets together each Wednesday morning.
“We have our coffee and we kind of solve the problems of the world,” Marcussen said of the way each gathering starts out.
They also have a lot of laughs, Marcussen said.
“We’re definitely on a wavelength,” she said of her fellow Mamas. “It’s kind of my book group and my gourmet group and my outreach to the world. We talk about everything, as well as our art, of course, and we encourage each other. And we need that, with busy lives and grandchildren and strings pulling in many directions.”
The companionship is invaluable, but the meetings also keep each member focused on her art—they spend at least two hours painting or drawing each week.
Roberta Whitmore, who taught science at Williston Central School but said she always loved art, said they are more than painting parters—they are “very old friends.”
“We have common interests common opinions,” Whitmore said, adding that the group has traveled together, including a trip to Marcussen’s part-time home in Norway. “It’s just been a great group of friends to do things with.”
Monet Mamas rolls off the tongue nicely, but the group doesn’t necessarily emulate the famous Impressionist’s style. Marcussen belongs to a hiking group called the Mountain Mamas, and the artists decided to appropriate the idea.
“We just found it funny,” Morency said of the moniker. “It kind of latched on.”
More than 50 paintings the Monet Mamas created are on display at the Charlotte Senior Center through the month of November. The show is free, but prospective art viewers should call ahead to make sure the center is not booked with another activity.