By Cathleen Elise Rossiter
The other day I came across a painting my brother, David, had done entitled The Vinegar Cruet. I have always loved this painting yet never took the time to ponder why. Well, the other day the “why?” struck me.
David paints obscure, unseen, oftentimes neglected, everyday objects or scenes. He paints them from the inside out, building layer upon layer until the object’s inherent essence and beauty are depicted on the canvas. This method allows the object to be revealed to the viewer to whatever depth the viewer has the courage to dive. In the case of The Vinegar Cruet, the glass cruet glimmers nobly, yet in an elevated, utilitarian manner among its rather rustic surroundings. It is filled with vinegar, a sour, oftentimes biting liquid, yet it shines nonetheless. The cruet is not featured on a lavish table amid exquisite settings; rather it is the only object on a table of unfinished planks in an unadorned room. The cruet, being glass, focuses light through itself onto its contents and reflects light on its surroundings, thereby elevating its surroundings simply by its presence and focus.
This little cruet filled with vinegar reminds me that as long as I remain who I am in my essence (focusing light on my interior self), I will be able to see myself for who I truly am, even if at the moment I am filled with sourness. I will reflect true light upon whatever circumstances or surroundings I might find myself at any given moment. If I deal honestly with myself, I can use the sourness to bring richness and flavor to my life thereby elevating my surroundings (as vinegar is used in cooking). My environment need not drag me down to any level; rather, I may rise to higher levels, bringing my environment with me.