Horses frolic across a wintry landscape, a lighthearted moment of a foalâ€™s first snowy day that Bernice Ann Ferry captured in watercolor.
The painting took first place honors this year in the professional division of Senior Livingâ€™s cover art contest.
Ferry, 76, an avid animal portrait painter, doesnâ€™t have far to look for inspiration, with her familyâ€™s seven horses, plus boarders, just outside the window at Valleywood Farm in Liverpool Township.
Add their Labrador, Buster, to the mix, and you have some of Ferryâ€™s favorite subjects.
Sheâ€™s been painting and drawing since childhood, when she used a big closet attached to her bedroom as a studio in her parentsâ€™ remodeled farm house.
With a fine arts degree from Baldwin-Wallace College, Ferry said art education never really stops.
â€œIâ€™ve taken workshops with favorite artists, and I have art books â€” Iâ€™ll never get to all of them â€” and I do a lot on my own,â€ she said, adding that she gravitates toward watercolor and oils, and uses pastels for many of the animal portrait commissions she receives. â€œI will use acrylics only when I have to.â€
In spite of the large number of commissions she handles, she considers the painting she does with her 3- and 6-year-old granddaughters her most important work.
The 6-year-old now is trying representational art, and both do â€œabstracts,â€ Ferry said.
When they visit, out come the big bottles of poster paint, their easel and big pads of watercolor paper.
Ferry, whose work is in collections throughout the United States, enjoys working with one or two students each year.
â€œTeaching is fun, passing on what you know, and you learn a lot yourself from demonstrating,â€ she said. â€œYou learn a lot by watching others, and we have wonderful artists in the (Medina County) Art League. Talking to other artists is a good way to get ideas, to exchange ideas.â€
Ferry exhibits at two or three art shows a year; this year she appeared at the Wolf Creek Nature Center Show and the Rocky River Nature Center Show.
She also has exhibited locally at Western Reserve Bank.
â€œItâ€™s so much fun to talk everyone, and itâ€™s a good place for beginning artists to meet other artists.â€ Most established artists are willing to talk about their techniques, she said.
When people come up to her and say â€œI wish I had that kind of talent, I canâ€™t draw a straight line,â€ Ferry fires right back with: â€œNeither can I.â€
She encourages them to start with something simple, like a single apple, and go from there. â€œIt should be fun! You shouldnâ€™t worry about every line.â€
Ferry regularly donates paintings to auctions earmarked for raising money for local entities like the fire department and library.
Sheâ€™s a member of the Medina County Art League and hopes to enter its annual Aquarius Show at Western Reserve Masonic Community this winter.
Although as a professional she sells her work, some paintings she canâ€™t part with, like the one featuring her grandmotherâ€™s lamp and lace tablecloth.
â€œEach time you let one go, itâ€™s a piece of yourself going with it,â€ she said.
She welcomes people to e-mail or call her to see her artwork or just to talk about art. Contact her at email@example.com or 330-483-3859.