At age 86, after more than a half-century, Evelyne Turner decided to give up her favourite art form, painting, but to satisfy her creative passion she decided to put pencil to paper for some special people.
Last month, with the approval of administration and families, she started sketching portraits of some of the residents of Haven Hill Retirement Centre where she and husband Harv Baessler have volunteered twice a week for the last 12 years.
“I used to do a lot of painting scenes and various things like that and have sold my work. Now that I’m the age I am, I have decided it’s not worth me painting any more so I’ve given that up entirely and I thought, to keep my hand in art, I want to do something that I can just share, ” said Turner, a former member of the Osoyoos Painters and Potters and the Summerland Pleasure Painters groups. “I’m thoroughly enjoying this, just getting a few laughs. I mean, the next week after I give them their portraits they might not remember them, but they’ve got them in their room and it’s something to pass on to the family.”
This week, she finished a portrait of a 97-year-old lady who is near the end of life, deciding to make the sketch after talking to the woman’s son.
“I love doing it and you know it’s amazing, I’m doing one right now of a lady and she’s, well, I can’t explain it, mentally she’s aware but not all there,” said Turner. “But when you start drawing these people you see something inside them that is not on the surface when you look at them in life.
“You see something totally different and it’s a wonderful feeling. I haven’t got a word for it but I would say that I see their soul. They must have been a wonderful person when they were young and had a family, maybe that’s coming out in the portrait.”
Generally, she works from photos of her subjects, so far having done nearly a dozen and plans do many more in the future.
“I just love working with the elderly, I really do, that’s how I started my career. If this makes them happy, then that is truly a work of art,” said Turner.