Senior artists escape into the canvas
February 19, 2014
Theresa Quartermain-Jackson is confined to a wheelchair, Gloria Edwards the memory care unit, but the womens’ art takes them anywhere they want to go
Whether painting an old cottage in England or a tree in the Desolation Wilderness, the artists don’t let their limitations hold them back.
Quartermain-Jackson, 88, was born in England, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1948. For her, painting is spiritual.
“Angels help me. They appear in my paintings,” she said. “One day I was painting and took a time out, when I returned there was a whole painting of a baptism. It was so beautiful.”
During another painting session, the Gardnerville Ranchos resident described a rainbow appearing in her work.
“The rainbow came down, went under the roof and into the window of the English cottage,” she said. “Things like that happen all the time. It just stuns me.”
Quartermain-Jackson has sold hundreds of paintings, but the highlight of her career was when Bob Hope bought one of her pieces.
She was sitting for an artists gallery at the High Sierra Casino in Lake Tahoe when he came in.
“I looked up and there I saw the great Bob Hope,” she said. “I was delighted to see him. I was speechless.”
Hope browsed the corridor full of paintings and gestured Quartermain-Jackson over to where he was standing in front of a painting of a lion.
“He said, ‘I want to buy this painting,’” she recalled. “I told him that I had painted it, and he was stunned. So I sold it to him myself because I was on duty.”
She ended up painting a second lion for herself which hangs in her son’s house in South Lake Tahoe.
Shortly before turning 60 years old, Quartermain-Jackson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
“I love oil painting, but I can’t do it anymore, so I drifted into sketching,” she said. “It’s no big deal, everybody’s got something.”
Despite her difficulties Quartermain-Jackson lives by the words of Winston Churchill: “Never give up, never give up, never give up.”
“I’ve painted in terrible pain because I never give up,” she said. “I call it making my payment to the world.”
Edwards, 87, followed in her family’s footsteps to learn her craft.
“My whole family were artists, so I followed along,” she said. “I started out as a kid with pencil and paper, and went to water color. I like oil painting the most.”
Edwards was born in Oakland, Calif., but raised her family in Lake Tahoe working at a photography studio.
She found inspiration for her paintings in the landscapes around her when she and her family went camping and hiking.
“I love nature. It’s a true thing, nobody made it. I like to start with a blank canvas and let it flow,” she said. “Lake Tahoe is my favorite spot. It’s so peaceful and natural and beautiful.”
The walls of her room at Carson Valley Senior Living are covered by some of her work, including, pinecones, trees, flowers and farms.
By using a pallet knife to paint, her finished pieces seems to jump off the canvas.
“I saw someone using a knife and it fascinated me. With a knife, it’s magic because it goes so fast,” she said. “I feel like it comes alive, and I try to get the reality of the painting as much as I can, not just the snapshot.”
One of Edwards’ favorite pieces is of a tree in the Desolation Wilderness.
“It was dry and nothing was living, but it,” she said. “It amazed me it was still alive. ‘The Will To Live’ is what I always called it.”
Although usually painting real life subjects, Edwards has dabbled in abstract. One of her paintings depicts a blurred picture of the birth of baby Jesus in yellows, reds and whites.
“I’m not an abstract person, so I don’t know why I painted it. I always try and capture the real thing, not just make up something,” she said. “It was Christmas time and I guess I got in the mood.”
A printing company enjoyed the painting so much that they made it into a card.
Edwards gives painting demonstrations now and then at the residential facility, but no longer sells her work.
“I’ve had it around me so much that it’s a part of my life,” she said of her artwork. “I always leave my canvas up, and whenever I have the opportunity, I do something.”