ST. PETERSBURG — When a portrait exactly resembles the subject — dimples, wrinkles, intangible personal qualities — it's called "capturing a likeness."
Not all artists can do it. Charlotte Mullendore could.
Once, she painted herself. She looked back and forth, mirror to canvas, finishing with an eerily accurate product.
"This portrait has got the whole kind of essence of her alertness and ability to see things," said her daughter, Karen Mullendore.
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Her family believes she could have been famous, but she was busy taking care of them.
Mrs. Mullendore never resented any of it. She formed a sisterly bond with her daughters, Karen and Laura. She supported her husband, former Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court Harold "Pete" Mullendore, at all his public events. She kept dinner on the stove and laundry spinning.
Stolen moments went to art. Line drawings with India ink. Impressionist paintings. Abstract oils. Sculptures. Sketches.
"The thing that I think is the most interesting aspect of mother's ability is that it was so broad," said Karen Mullendore, 59.
To help pay the bills, she illustrated women's department store clothing for advertisements in the Evening Independent. She regularly took the long bus trip from St. Petersburg to Maas Brothers in Tampa.
Sometimes, her husband picked up clothes from high-end ladies stores around town and brought them home for his wife's work. Her daughters modeled hats for her to sketch.
"She was good at it, and she enjoyed it," said her husband, 86. "She was very connected with any endeavor of art."
She studied painting under noted artists, including William Pachner. She admired the bold art of friend and former St. Petersburg Times artist Jack Barrett.
Mrs. Mullendore belonged to many art groups, galleries and councils. Her work is featured in fine art collections, including the one at the Raymond James home office in St. Petersburg.
"I don't think she ever realized how much we all admired her," said her daughter.
Nine years ago, she developed Alzheimer's. The next year, Parkinson's.
She got discouraged when she couldn't stay busy. She lost the power to make the choices that come with art — what to draw, what to edit, what to highlight.
Mrs. Mullendore died Saturday. She was 82.
To ensure her likeness is captured at the funeral, her family will display the self-portrait.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8857.